Phosphate mining is an issue of extremes–nothing is small nor unimpressive. The area is vast, the destruction more so, the huge sinkhole is chilling to look upon, the wasteland is devastation, and the machinery is the size of houses. And water consumption is huge.
Much of the phosphate mining takes place in the Peace River valley:
Since the 1960s, the average annual flow of the middle Peace River has declined from 1,350 cubic feet (38.23 m3) to 800 cubic feet (22.65 m3) per second (38.23 to 22.65 m³/s). Critics argue that this flow reduction is due to phosphate mining, but studies by the Southwest Florida Water Management District have shown that the reduction in flow is due to multidecadal oscillation in Atlantic Ocean temperatures.*
Here we must add that lately the credibility of the Southwest Florida Water Management District is somewhat less than zero.
On our overflight we sighted four different draglines, but not all were operating.
A large dragline system used in the open pit mining industry costs approximately US$50–100 million. A typical bucket has a volume ranging from 40 to 80 cubic yards (30 to 60 cubic metres), though extremely large buckets have ranged up to 168 cubic metres (5,900 cu ft). The length of the boom ranges from 45 to 100 metres (148 to 328 ft). In a single cycle, it can move up to 450 tonnes of material.*
Another dragline, apparently not in operation.
This one appears to be operating.
Huge tracts of land with no habitation nor agriculture. This will remain as it is for decades. No one is fishing in these lakes.
Note the dragline in the middle of nowhere.
Again, we have black, brown and green water. All colors are toxic. Note the roads atop the berms.
This farm is just yards from spoil piles.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-