Mosiac Settles Dispute with Environmentalists Over Florida Mine

Mosaic Co. (NYSE:MOS) stock may be looking at better days ahead after the fertilizer company reached a deal in its legal struggle with environmental groups over expansion of a Florida phosphate mine.

In exchange for permission to expand the South Fort Meade mine, the fertilizer company has agreed to donate a 4,100-acre ranch in southwest Florida that the Sierra Club and other groups involved in the lawsuit hope to turn into a state park, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Mosaic bought the property last fall in a bankruptcy auction to use as a bargaining chip in its attempts to reach a settlement, according to Mosaic Chief Executive Jim Prokopanko. The company also promised to preserve 130 acres of wetlands connected to the 10,856-acre phosphate mine.

Mosaic said operations at the mine will resume after approval of the settlement, which is expected from the U.S. District Court judge next month. The mine supplies 20 percent of North America’s phosphate and employs 200 people.

The ongoing legal dispute has dealt a blow to Mosaic’s stock: the company’s shares have fallen more than 30 percent in the past year. “Our supply of phosphate rock in Florida is secure for the next 10 years,” Prokopanko said. “The settlement should remove a question that investors have had.”

Production at the mine was halted in 2010 by a restraining order issued against a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit that Mosaic was using for its expansion. Environmental groups claimed the permit violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act and threatened Florida’s Peace River and Charlotte Harbor Estuary, according to a report Wednesday in The Ledger, a newspaper in Lakeland, Florida.

The parties have been working on a settlement for the past year. Mosaic is about to start the process of applying for expansion permits for two other mines in Florida. The company expects the process to take six years.

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