Currently, all mining in Florida is subject to reclamation requirements. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Mining and Minerals Regulation Program (MMR) is the state's lead agency in the regulation of mine reclamation. Reclamation standards are set forth in Chapter 378, Florida Statutes (F.S.). Phosphate mining is the most land-intensive of all commodities mined in Florida (phosphate, limestone, heavy minerals, sand, peat). Phosphate mining disturbs 5,000 - 6,000 acres of land annually. Approximately 25 - 30% of these lands are isolated wetlands or wetlands connected to waters of the state (contiguous wetlands).
The mined landform is generally a series of steep-sloped spoil piles with water-filled troughs. Reclamation construction consists of re-contouring and re-vegetation. Phosphate mining occurs primarily in the Central Florida area (in Polk, Hillsborough, Manatee, and Hardee counties). One mining company operates in North Florida (Hamilton County). All phosphate lands disturbed after July 1, 1975, are subject to mandatory reclamation requirements. Reclamation standards for phosphate lands are detailed in Chapter 62C-16 of the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the land mined for phosphate since July 1, 1975 have been reclaimed.
Technical issues include hydrology, water quality, wetland and other wildlife habitat replacement and mitigation, and waste clay disposal. The Integrated Habitat Network (IHN) plan, prepared by MMR, is the focus for the reclamation and permitting efforts for phosphate mining in Central Florida. The IHN provides for ecologically-based construction of wildlife corridors which are to be associated primarily with the land adjacent to major river systems and their tributaries.