P and K Fertilizer Source in Jeopardy?

Nation's major supplier says permitted mines will play out in 30 years.

A dragline bigger than a barn scoops up 60 yards of Florida sand in its bucket, swings it over a gaping hole in ground and dumps it in a thundering crash.

That's how the mining and processing of most of the phosphorus and potash used on American farms begins.

The dragline is one of many that Mosaic operates in its four phosphate rock mines in central Florida. Mosaic supplies about 75% of the phosphate and potash in the U.S.

But the draglines could go silent in your lifetime.

Mosaic only has 30 years of reserves under current mining permits and it is getting more difficult to receive permits from the state of Florida.

About 60 years of phosphate rocks exists under the 322,000 acres that the company owns or has the mineral rights to in central Florida.

Farmers on a Commodity Classic tour inspect a dragline at the Mosaic strip mine in central Florida. It is

getting more difficult for the company to get permits to mine the phosphate rock, which is used to supply most of the P and K in the U.S.

Mosaic follows all state and environmental rules, and reclaims the land for use as parks, golf courses, wetlands and even housing. But it is getting tougher to convince the public that "strip mining in the Garden of Eden" - as a Mosaic spokesperson on the tour described it - should continue.

Mosaic expects to face major competition from new mines opening in Saudi Arabia and other countries.

American farmers could face the prospect of having to rely on foreign sources of phosphorus and potash in the future.

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