We understand concerns about the ecological safety of the Okefenokee Swamp. Protecting its ecosystems is important to us and is just good business. It is not only an altruistic wish to preserve the area; the consequences of environmental missteps could be very costly for us in terms of regulatory actions, fines and remediation expenses.

With that in mind, we have conducted extensive scientific evaluations and analyses. Findings include:

  • Tuscaloosa Testing Laboratories (TTL) conducted a study to determine the feasibility of mining without impacting the Okefenokee. Additionally, Twin Pines proactively reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency and Georgia Department of Natural Resources and participated in a joint meeting for the purpose of setting a plan into motion to assure surface and groundwater movement are fully understood and that threatened and/or endangered species are protected.

  • We installed more than 200 groundwater and surface water monitoring sites and continue testing and monitoring.

  • All noted activities are overseen by Robert Holt, PhD., a nationally renowned hydrogeologist from the University of Mississippi. He has completed advanced modeling to determine any effects on groundwater or surface water movement as a result of the mining and provided the study to the aforementioned government agencies in January 2020 – a full copy of which may be downloaded by clicking here.

Highlights of the groundwater modeling study include:

  • Two numerical models were developed using U.S. Geological Survey standards to simulate three-dimensional, steady-state groundwater flow in the Surficial Aquifer at the study area.

    • A model representing pre-mining conditions was created and calibrated to match observed water levels in piezometers and wells.
    • A second model represented post-mining conditions and was based on the original calibrated model, except the calibrated hydraulic conductivity values of the aquifer within the mined zone were homogenized to represent the mine pit filled spoil.
    • The pre-mining and post-mining models were compared to evaluate changes in the groundwater discharge to the model boundaries (e.g., the swamps to the west and the groundwater system to the east).
    • The models compare changes in the groundwater discharge to streams along Trail Ridge and changes in the water table position at the mine and near the Okefenokee swamp due to the proposed mining project.
  • The comparison shows that the proposed mining activities will have negligible impact on the hydrologic system of Trail Ridge and the Okefenokee Swamp.

    • An analytical model was developed to evaluate drawdown in the Surficial Aquifer caused by the moving mine pit. The model shows that, even in a highly conservative (extreme) modeling scenario, perturbations in the water table due to the moving mine will quickly recover.
  • Dr. Holt has also evaluated the permit area’s geology to aid us in returning sand back into the mining areas in a methodology that will accurately replicate the conditions prior to mining.

  • Twin Pines Minerals enlisted the services of nationally renowned herpetologists and botanists with expertise in threatened and endangered species who conducted extensive surveys of the area. Gopher tortoises are widely distributed in the area, and their burrows have been located. Any tortoises impacted by mining will be relocated to an equally suitable habitat, and these areas, along with areas not impacted by mining, will be protected.

In the best interests of the Okefenokee, the community and our company, this project will continue to be guided by the studies, the science and environmental regulations.