ATLANTA – The Alabama-based company planning to mine titanium near the Okefenokee Swamp has been fined $20,000 in connection with the drilling of exploratory boreholes at the site.
Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) agreed Tuesday to pay the penalty without admitting wrongdoing for drilling boreholes on 107 days in 2018 and 2019 without obtaining a performance bond or letter of credit and drilling on 24 days without the supervision of either a professional engineer or professional geologist, both in violation of state law.
Twin Pines Minerals is seeking state permits to mine titanium dioxide on Trail Ridge, the Okefenokee’s eastern hydrologic boundary.
While company executives have said the project would not harm the swamp, scientific studies have concluded the proposed mine would significantly damage one of the world’s largest intact freshwater wetlands by drawing down its water level and increasing the risk of drought and fires.
Opponents of the project are citing Tuesday’s consent order as reason for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to force Twin Pines to redo its initial sampling.
“EPD could have used this to shut down the permit once and for all,” Josh Marks, an environmental attorney and president of Georgians for the Okefenokee, wrote in an email to Capitol Beat. “The fact they didn’t, and are only slapping TPM’s wrist, tells me they will definitely move forward with issuance of the draft permit very soon.”
Meanwhile, sponsors of legislation in the state House of Representatives banning surface mining near the Okefenokee are working to revive the bill. The measure failed to gain headway in the General Assembly last year despite being cosponsored by 91 of the 180 House lawmakers.