News | July 7, 2021

Twin Pines mining plan threatens iconic Okefenokee Swamp

“It’s not worth the risk.”

What is the Okefenokee?

The Okefenokee Swamp is located in southeast Georgia. The swamp, which covers 438,000 acres and is the largest blackwater swamp in North America, includes the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Wilderness. It is also home to a wide variety of animals, from toads and birds to alligators and black bears.


Animals of all shapes and sizes call the Okefenokee home. (©Julie Dermansky, ©Bill Lea)

Why is everyone talking about the Okefenokee now?

Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, an Alabama-based mining company, has submitted applications to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for five state permits that it needs in order to go forward with its proposed mine on the doorstep of the Okefenokee Swamp. The plan requires excavating hundreds of acres of wetlands next to the swamp, which would have devastating effects on the swamp ecosystem.

The concern is grave enough that a group of scientists sent a letter to Richard Dunn, Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, about Twin Pines’ proposal. The letter highlights the fact that many questions remain about the number of ways the proposed mine could harm the Okefenokee, and outlines the concerns the scientists share about the impacts on the surrounding water systems. Their concerns echo those already voiced by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydrologists, and other independent hydrologists.

What is SELC doing?

In addition to opposing the state permits and driving public engagement with that process, we are also working to reinstate federal protections for this natural treasure. Under Trump-era rollbacks of clean water protections, almost 400 acres of wetlands within the area planned for Twin Pines’ initial mining phase lost federal oversight. This could have massive impacts on the scale of destruction possible under the company’s plans.

Tens of thousands of Georgians have already expressed significant concerns about the prospect of mining right next to one of the nation’s most important natural treasures. We hope communities statewide will continue to make their voices heard, reminding Georgia officials this project is not worth the risk.

Bill Sapp, senior attorney

How can you get involved?

We need to let state officials know how many people oppose the mine and the devastation it threatens to the Okefenokee. Send an email via this link.

Also check out the Okefenokee Protection Alliance and keep an eye out for the next comment period.

The Okefenokee Swamp is of immense economic, ecological, cultural, and historical value, and it is the wrong place for any kind of mine. Georgia environmental regulators must deny the permits that would allow this destructive project to jeopardize the Okefenokee Swamp and the communities and businesses that depend on it. It’s not worth the risk.


(©Julie Dermansky)

5 quick facts

1. Twin Pines Minerals, LLC is proposing an 8,000-acre heavy-mineral-sand strip mine along the edge of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Georgia.

2. A similar proposal by DuPont in the 1990s was abandoned when it ran into overwhelming opposition from numerous conservation organizations, local communities, and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior.

3. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge supports at least:

  • 753 jobs
  • $17.2 million in annual employment income
  • $5.4 million in annual tax revenue
  • $64.7 million in annual economic output.

4. The Okefenokee Swamp is an important cultural site, with evidence of Indigenous occupation dating back to 2500 BC and a more recent history as a refuge for formerly enslaved people.

5. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is reviewing five state permits for the project, with upcoming opportunities for public comment.

Sunset over the Okefenokee. (©Julie Dermansky)