Fuller's Earth Mines
The Mining and Mitigation Program is responsible for the
administration of reclamation and wetland resource permitting
programs, as authorized by Part II of Chapter 211, Part IV of Chapter
373, and Parts II & III of Chapter 378, Florida Statutes, and set
forth in Title 62, Florida Administrative Code. These rules address
the reclamation and wetland resource permitting on lands disturbed by
the extraction of mineral resources, such as
limestone, dolomite, shell,
heavy minerals, fullerís
earth, peat, clay,
gravel, and sand, and the direct participation of other agencies
in the regulatory process.
What is fullers earth?
Fuller's earth has been used for its absorbent properties since
ancient times. It was used by "fullers" to "full" (remove) grease and
fat from woolen cloth. Fuller's earth is a general term that can be
applied to many types of clay that have an exceptional ability to
absorb coloring materials from oils of animal, vegetable, and mineral
origin. In Florida, the term is narrowly limited. Section
378.403(6), Florida Statutes, defines fuller's earth as clay
possessing a high absorptive capacity consisting largely of
montmorillonite or palygorskite. Fuller's earth clay includes
Where are the fuller's earth mines in Florida?
The first discovery in the U.S. of fullerís earth was made in 1893
near Quincy, Florida. Mining began in Gadsden County in 1895. This
ore deposit extends from Gadsden County, Florida, into Decatur and
Grady Counties, Georgia. One fullerís earth mine is located in Marion
The mine boundaries can be seen through Map Direct.
How is fuller's earth mined in Florida?
Fuller's earth occurs as a clay stratum. Over this stratum is a
sand and clay overburden lacking marketable material. At some
locations, there may be a second, deeper fuller's earth stratum. The
two fuller's earth strata are separated by overburden.
Prior to mining the trees are harvested by normal silvicultural
practices. Topsoil is removed and stockpiled along the edge of the
mine for later use in reclamation. The overburden is removed by
dragline, bulldozer, or pan scrapers and stocked piled for use in
reclamation. The topsoil and overburden piles are also used to
contain sediment and stormwater within the project limits. The
fuller's earth is removed by dragline and loaded onto trucks for
transport to the processing plant. The mined out areas are then
backed filled with overburden, recontoured, covered with topsoil, and
revegetated to meet reclamation standards.
What are the reclamation standards for fullerís earth mines?
The Florida Legislature mandated reclamation of those lands mined
for fullerís earth after July 1, 1975. Mine operators are require to
provide the Department with a conceptual reclamation plan. Part
of our extensive evaluations in reclamation design includes analysis
of water quantity impacts, consideration of best available technology,
and focusing on preservation of wildlife habitat and resources.
Reclamation means the reasonable rehabilitation of land where
resource extraction has occurred. Areas disturbed by mining
operations, and subject to the reclamation requirements, must be
reclaimed after mining is complete. Debris, litter, junk, worn-out or
unusable equipment or materials must be appropriately disposed. The
land must be recontoured and stabilized to control erosion. Bare
areas must be revegetated. Reclamation standards for fullerís earth
mines are detailed in
Part III of Chapter 378, Florida Statutes, and
Chapter 62C-38, Florida Administrative Code. The
forms used for the reclamation program and filing instructions may
be obtained online.
What permits are required for fullerís earth mines?
There is no comprehensive permit that covers all aspects of large
developments, including mines. To start a large development
project the applicant may have to consider the requirements of several
regulatory agencies. Each agency may only regulate the specific
activities based on authority granted by the congress, the legislature
or county commission. To start construction the applicant must
have all necessary federal, state, and local approvals. The Mining
and Mitigation Program reviews applications for Environmental Resource
Permits (ERP), and Wetland Resource Permits.
Fullerís earth mines that were not included in a conceptual
reclamation plan or modification application prior to July 1, 1996,
are required to have an
Environmental Resource Permit. This permit governs the
construction, alteration, operation, maintenance, repair, abandonment,
and removal of stormwater management systems, dams, impoundments,
reservoirs, appurtenant works, and works including docks, piers,
structures, dredging, and filling located in, on or over wetlands or
other surface waters. The regulatory rules used to implement the
ERP are authorized under
Chapter 373, Florida Statutes.
Chapter 403, Florida Statutes, is used to govern activities which
may pollute Florida's ground and surface waters, including wetlands.
The ERP rules and Applicantís Handbook
Volumes I and II, provide explanations, procedures, guidance,
standards, and criteria on what is regulated, the types of permits
available, how to submit an application or notice for a regulated
activity, how applications and notices are reviewed, the standards and
criteria for issuance, and permit duration and modification. The
forms used for the ERP program and filing
instructions may be obtained online.
Fullerís earth mines that were included in a conceptual reclamation
plan or modification application prior to July 1, 1996, may be
required to have a Wetland Resource
Permit (WRP). This permit is based on statutes and
rules in effect
on January 1, 1993. This permit is required for any dredging,
filling, or construction in, on, or over waters and wetlands that are
connected, either naturally or artificially, to "named waters."
Named waters include the Gulf of Mexico, bays, bayous, sounds,
estuaries, lagoons, rivers, streams, and natural lakes that are not
wholly owned by one person other than the State.
Filing instructions for the WRP may be
In the area of the Northwest Florida Water Management District
only, a mine may not need an ERP. A mine or borrow pit operator
may continue to extract material from a pit that was existing prior to
October 1, 2007, provided they do not encroach beyond the limits of
land that has been prepared for excavation prior to October 1, 2007.
Land prepared for excavation includes those lands intended for
immediate excavation and may involve preparation such as land
clearing, root raking, removal of top soil, etc. A pit existing
prior to October 1, 2007 that has no additional land prepared for
excavation, may also continue to extract material in the vertical
direction within the footprint of the existing disturbed area.
Any new mines or borrow pits, or expansion of existing mines or borrow
pits that necessitates additional preparation of land for excavation
that occurs after October 1, 2007, must obtain an ERP permit prior to
initiating construction or land clearing activities.
How does the Department monitor activities at fullerís earth
Each operator provides the Department with an Annual Mining and
Reclamation Report describing activities for the previous calendar
year and proposed mining and reclamation activities for the current
year. Routine compliance inspections are conducted to ensure
that mining and reclamation activities are in compliance with permit
and reclamation rules.
How can you obtain public records?
You can obtain a
list of applications
for permits and conceptual reclamation plans that are currently under
review within the Department. This will provide the application
number which can be used when requesting public records.
The Department of Environmental Protection maintains public records
in an electronic document management system. You can obtain public
records relating to permit applications, conceptual reclamation plans,
reports, and inspections through either of these two websites:
You may also request public records by contacting the Mining and
Mitigation Program at the mail address, e-mail address, or telephone
number shown below.
Mining, Mitigation and Delineation Home
Bob Martinez Center, 2600 Blair Stone Road, MS 3577, Tallahassee, FL
32399-2400 Phone (850) 245-7554