Okefenokee Swamp

ATLANTA – Opponents of a controversial plan to mine titanium near the Okefenokee Swamp scored a major victory Thursday when The Chemours Company announced it will not buy the mine or the company behind the project.

Chemours’ announcement came in response to a shareholder proposal filed last November by Green Century Capital Management, the investment advisor to an environmentally responsible family of mutual funds.

Chemours, an American chemical company spun off of DuPont, had been looking into acquiring Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals, which is seeking permits to mine titanium dioxide at a site three miles from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the largest black water swamp in North America.

Opponents have been warning the mine could damage adjacent wetlands and permanently affect the hydrology of the entire 438,000-acre swamp.

In a news release, Chemours also committed not to do business with Twin Pines or buy titanium from the Okefenokee-adjacent project at any time in the foreseeable future.

Chemours will announce a further commitment to “ensure the value of the Okefenokee is maintained” and made it clear that it has no plans to mine next to the refuge.

“We applaud Chemours’ commitment to protect the Okefenokee,” said Thomas Peterson, shareholder advocate with Green Century. “Chemours’ decision to disavow any interest in the Twin Pines project sends an important signal: The leading company in the industry is stating that titanium mining next to the refuge is a non-starter.”

Green Century is withdrawing its shareholder proposal in exchange for the public announcement of Chemours’ commitments to protect the Okefenokee.

The company’s action follows in the footsteps of DuPont, its corporate predecessor. DuPont abandoned a mining project next to the Okefenokee in the early 2000s, pledging instead to protect the area.

“These are the sorts of cases where big commitments about sustainability get tested and we learn whether corporate pledges on climate and biodiversity are to be trusted,” said Ivan Frishberg, chief sustainability officer for Amalgamated Bank, which supported the engagement with Chemours.

“We are very glad that Chemours has gone beyond requesting trust and is offering assurance that the Okefenokee is off limits.”

Scientists have maintained the proposed mining project would lower the swamp’s water level, causing serious damage to the ecology and wildlife habitat.

More than 100,000 public comments have been filed with the state and federal governments opposing the Twin Pines project. Those opponents include Bruce Babbitt, who served as interior secretary under President Bill Clinton, and Hank Paulson, who was President George W. Bush’s treasury secretary.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.