New titanium mine threatens pristine streams near Medoc Mountain State Park

Iluka Mineral Sands Mine Threatens Waters Near Medoc Mountain State Park

Iluka, an Australian company that mines titanium and zircon, has applied for their state mining permit and will soon apply for other state and federal environmental permits. The mine is located in and around Aurelian Springs, Halifax County, an area within the Fishing Creek watershed of the Tar-Pamlico River basin. View Area Map.

Phase 1 of the project

Iluka is currently mining in Virginia and wishes to move two of their concentrator plants to Aurelian Springs, Halifax County. The company is seeking a mining permit for the entirety of Phase I, or 3,890 acres of land, but has only provided details of the environmental impacts to about a third of the actual disturbed area, about 540 acres of the anticipated 1450 acres that would be directly impacted via mining, pipelines, road crossings, stormwater and wastewater ponds, etc. We fully expect Phase II to be similar in size and in the same vicinity as the current project. Water use is estimated to be close to 1 million gallons per day for Phase I, sourced from wells and municipal water supply. Photo above is from the Brink, Va mine.

Compliance History and Issues in Virginia

PTRF staff have been engaged in this issue since becoming aware of the company seeking approval of a local conditional use zoning permit in September, 2013. Our background work has uncovered several large spills at their Virginia mine site, the most recent occurring in 2013 resulting in an $83,083 fine. The company has had a number of unauthorized discharges and has impacted streams and wetlands. This is extremely concerning since the area the company seeks to mine has numerous records of rare aquatic species, Significant Natural Heritage Areas, and Nature Preserves within the affected watersheds. Of particular concern is that the project area is within the headwaters of streams that support threatened and endangered species of mussels and fish, including the federally listed endangered species; Tar River Spinymussel and Dwarf Wedgemussel.

View PTRF’s Mining Permit Comments, submitting October 3, 2014

View Table on Freshwater Mussel Distribution in the Tar-Pamlico River basin