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Phosphate processing plants in the greater Tampa Bay region have caused some of Florida's worst environmental disasters. Accidents like the spill at the former Piney Point plant fill the history books in Florida.

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.

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