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DuPont puts mine near Okefenokee Swamp on hold


Company hopes to change opponents' minds

April 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:27 p.m. EDT (0327 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- The DuPont Company said Friday it would suspend plans for a titanium dioxide mine bordering the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in south Georgia, pending the results of "an ongoing dialogue" with conservationists and government officials who oppose it.

The company was "surprised and disappointed" by opposition to the mining plan on 38,000 acres of land along the eastern border of the Refuge, said DuPont Vice President Ellen Kullman.

Critics argued that the strip-mining operation could irreparably damage the Okefenokee's water supply, while DuPont said it has safely operated similar mines in other locations.


Titanium dioxide is used as a whitening agent for a wide variety of products ranging from paper and paint to toothpaste and Oreo Cookie filling.


Opposition to the project mounted last week when U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt visited the Okefenokee and the proposed mine site. Afterward, Babbitt asked DuPont to abandon the site.

Company still hopes to change opponents' minds

Georgia Gov. Zell Miller also announced his opposition, while some local leaders voiced support for the roughly 150 jobs the mine would create.

Kullman said the company would assemble a team of "key stakeholders" from government, environmental groups and communities neighboring the mine site to consult on DuPont's plan. She did not say, however, that DuPont would abandon the idea if faced with further opposition.


"We hope today's decision will ultimately lead to no mining," said Jerry McCollum, president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

Other environmentalists doubted that DuPont would walk away from the site.

"We'll be a part of the collaborative process, but our position won't change," said Sierra Club spokesman Josh Marks. "The Okefenokee is the worst possible place to put a mine."


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