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Since 1949, DuPont has extracted heavy minerals from its only domestic U.S. mining operation-the Florida Plant located along the Trail Ridge sands east of Starke, Florida. These facilities provide important mineral products that improve our quality of life.
Current mining operations occur in Baker, Bradford, Clay and Duval counties.
The site generates $50 million of economic impact annually and over 225 jobs to Florida residents. Employees at the Florida Plant recognize that our success is critically linked to the stewardship of the land, the environment, and the communities we live and work in.
There are four steps in the mining process:
Planning and Preparation?
Years before the ground is broken, the process of planning begins. Land agreements are negotiated, detailed environmental assessments are conducted, and state, in conjunction with federal approvals are sought and granted. In some cases civil infrastructure improvements like roads must be constructed before mining can begin.
Detailed records are made of the vegetation, wildlife, topography and water table to ensure we can replace the land as we found it. Trees and vegetation are cleared. Topsoil, so vital to replanting vegetation, is moved aside and preserved.
After topsoil is removed, a floating dredge cuts into the sandbank creating a pond from the natural water table. A mixture of sand and water is pumped to a gravity separation facility, also known as a Wet Mill, which floats in the same pond as the dredge. At the Wet Mill, gravity is used to separate the heavy valuable minerals from the lighter-weight sand as they pass through the "gravity separation spirals." No chemicals are used to make the mineral separation. Product minerals account for only two to three percent of the collected sand. The remaining 97% to 98% of the Wet Mill material is returned to the land within minutes from the time it was originally mined.
As soon as mining is complete, all land is returned to productive use as forests, wetlands and wildlife habitat. There are no chemicals used to extract the minerals, no pits left behind and no land overburden or waste. 97% to 98% of the sand is returned to the land within minutes. The returned sand is re-contoured and then the topsoil is replaced. Native grasses are re-established and within one to two years tree seedlings are planted and wetlands are restored.
After minerals are collected, they are transported from the stockpile area to a dry mill facility where additional separation occurs. After drying, the minerals pass over electrostatic and electromagnetic separators. Since some of the minerals are conductors of electricity and some are magnetic, while others are not, we are able to separate out the titanium minerals, zircon and staurolite into discreet mineral products. The finished mineral products are then packaged and shipped to customers by railcar, bulk containers or trucks.