DuPont has withdrawn its application for a permit to mine 2,254 acres near Jesup, Ga., until it can address “various points’’ raised by Wayne County residents at recent meetings, the company said Wednesday.
“We’re going to hit the pause button and start over,’’ company spokeswoman Tara Stewart said. “We want to take time and listen to the community. We want to do this right.”
The company had applied to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to excavate the mineral bearing sands on 4,063 acres of leased land to extract titanium oxide, zircon and other minerals. Environmentalists and local residents asserted that DuPont’s proposed method of excavating 25 to 50 feet deep would affect drinking water wells and that the dust and truck traffic from the operation would hurt property values and the quality of life.
DuPont planned to separate the mineral sands from the rest and then truck that to its facility in Starke for final processing.
C.J. Hilton, manager of the Starke plant, said the company has heard the concerns of the neighbors and the community.
“We will continue to listen. Our goal is to be good stewards of the environment while bringing economic development and jobs to Wayne County, Ga.,’’ Hilton said Wednesday in a release. “We look forward to continued discussions with all stakeholders as the process goes forward.”
There is also a legal element in the delay as DuPont plans to spin off its Titanium Technologies business and mining operations into a new company planned for mid 2015.
“...We understand that permits will need to be under our new company name and legal entity moving forward,’’ DuPont said.
Stewart said the company is capable of mining in a way that will address the concerns.
“We’ve been mining 80 years, 60 in Florida,’’ she said. “We know how to do this well.”
The company also said it’s planned Amelia A & B mine would bring up to 60 new jobs with an annual economic impact of about $17 million. DuPont also said it would mine no wetlands, which was a concern expressed by environmentalists.
The 1,318-acre A site is south of U.S. 341 between Jesup and Odum and north of Holmesville Road. The 2,744-acre B site is east of U.S. 84 between Jesup and Screven.
Jesup resident Neil Herring, who handles legislative affairs for the Sierra Club in Georgia, said he’s glad that DuPont has withdrawn its permit, at least for now, and said he believes the delay came partly because the local community effectively made their case.
But Herring again noted that a lot of people live in the countryside around the proposed mine and doubts DuPont can mine without disrupting their lives.
“I don’t know if DuPont has anything to offer that would make these people happy,’’ he said. “I’m not sure there’s enough of this site away from other people to make it economically feasible [to mine].’’
Although DuPont has a lot of experience mining, Herring said, it is unlikely they’ve operated in an area with so many people.
“Nobody has mined this type of mine in a place this populated where everybody is on groundwater. There’s no public water system out there. This mining will affect hydrology,’’ Herring said.
Terry Dickson: (912) 264-0405