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WUSF News Staff
Wed October 9, 2013
End of An Era: Last Phosphate Mine in Polk County to Close
Phosphate mining was once an economic pillar for Polk County -- but that era is coming to a close. The last active mine in the county is nearly depleted and will close next year .
Mosaic says it will close its Hookers Prairie phosphate mine in Polk by the fall of next year.
"That will be the last rock we extract from Polk County," says Karen Swager, Vice President of Mining Operations for Mosaic.
Speaking at the regional phosphate conference in Lakeland, Swager said two new phosphate mines were in the works for Florida - which would be the first new mines under construction for the company in almost 20 years.
The mines in Hardee and Desoto Counties will cost roughly $1 billion each to construct. Swager says Mosaic does not yet hold permits for the mines -- and will not start construction until it does.
The company hopes to have the Hardee county mine running by 2019.
Phosphate rock is mined to produce phosphate fertilizer. Florida produces 65 percent of the phosphate in the U.S.