Reclaiming Phosphate Mining Areas

Phosphate is a key component of fertilizer, making it an important part of agriculture and food production. In 2010, Florida produced 65% of all the phosphate produced in the United States.1

Phosphate minerals are mined from the soil, and regulations require that mined areas be reclaimed after mining is completed. Reclamation is when mined land is converted into land that can be used for farming, recreation, development, etc.2

Reclamation involves adding phosphatic clay, a byproduct of phosphate mining, back into mined areas. Phosphatic clays hold a lot of water and can take decades to dry out and become usable land. Research has been done on a method that uses a combination of clay and sand in reclamation areas. This method has been used in Hardee county but has been discontinued. Though the sand-clay mix dries more quickly than clay alone and has promise for agricultural production, this reclamation method requires larger areas of land, making it less appropriate for landscapes intended for urban development. Researchers are now interested in finding new sand-clay reclamation methods that minimize reclamation time and maximize land-usability.3


  1. M. Wilson and E.A. Hanlon, Landscape Diversity: Florida Phosphate Mine Pit Lakes, SL364, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss565
  2. Casey Beavers, “An Overview of Phosphate Mining and Reclamation in Florida” (MS technical paper, University of Florida, 2013), 10, http://soils.ifas.ufl.edu/docs/pdf/academic/papers/beavers_casey_no_embargo.pdf
  3. Casey Beavers, Edward A. Hanlon, Matt Wilson, James “Bud” Cates, and George J. Hochmuth, Sand-Clay Mix in Phosphate Mine Reclamation: Characteristics and Land Use, SL423, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss636

Photo by Matt Wilson