More than a year ago, Alabama-based company, Twin Pines Minerals, submitted an application for a 12,000-acre  mining project just outside of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Folkston. After pulling the original application in February of this year, the company re-applied in hopes of receiving a permit for a demonstration project reducing the land size to 898 acres.

However, Twin Pines has since pulled their application from the Army Corps of Engineers following new environmental laws, which were passed in June. The company no longer requires permission from the federal government, but rather state permission due to President Donald Trump’s administration’s Navigable Waters Projection Rule. The summary of this new rule can be found at www.federalregister.gov.

“The footprint of the proposed titanium mine project has been significantly reduced,” said Steve Ingle, president, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, “In consultation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we have reduced the size of the proposed mine in Charlton County to less than 600 acres, and we have reconfigured its footprint to ensure there will be no impact to ‘waters of the United States’ as defined by the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”

Following the Waters Projection Rule, no federal permits will be required. However, TPM has submitted numerous permits which are still required from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. 

“We will continue to work with Georgia EPD to move forward with the project in an environmentally responsible way. The surface mine area will be restored, after mining, to the existing topography,” said Ingle.

The changes come just a month after the announcement was made that approximately a quarter of the land listed in the initial permit has not been secured by Twin Pines Minerals. Instead, the land is owned by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America‚ “TIAA”, whose spokesperson said has had no negotiations with the TPM. The Army Corps of Engineers says the Corps has known about this and has always referred to the land as a “TIAA tract.” Twin Pines did agreed to change the application.

Ingles says, “We look forward to proceeding with our project to validate what science has already shown: that essential minerals can be recovered from Trail Ridge without affecting water levels in the Okefenokee Swamp and without harming the environment in any other way.”