Tuesday, March 26, 2024 Blog · News

Opposing mining around critical areas and community spaces

by Emmi Palenbaum

There are over 500 active mines in South Carolina, and sand is the most commonly extracted. Over 20% of the sand mines in the state are in Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley Counties and Horry has 56, more than any other county. 

Sand is a necessary resource used for manufacturing and development, but we don’t know the long-term and cumulative effects on our environment. Mining also has significant impacts on the communities surrounding the site, causing dust in the air, noise at all hours, traffic that results in increased accidents, damage to roads, and trash. Where and how we mine is crucial to get right in order to balance smart growth with the impacts to our natural world and communities.  


Edge Road Mine 

On June 20, 2023, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control approved a permit application by Soilutions, LLC to operate a mine at Edge Road on the border of Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.   

This decision is extremely concerning, as it would have serious impacts on the hydrology of Lewis Ocean Bay and habitat for Venus flytraps and salamanders that require specific moisture levels to survive. If the native wetland vegetation and soils dry out, it could also increase the risk of wildfire and make maintaining the habitat through necessary prescribed burns more challenging. 

In September, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project filed a motion to appeal to the Mining Council on behalf of the Conservation League. In March 2024, an agreement was reached to set special conditions for monitoring the site and limiting the impacts to neighboring residents. 


Lofton Road Mine 

A proposed sand mine near the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Lofton Road has the potential to adversely affect the environment, as well as disrupt the rural, agricultural, and community aesthetic of the rural McClellanville area.

Blessing Investments, LLC attempted to receive a special exemption to establish a mine site in the County’s Agricultural Preservation (AG-10) zoning district. The proposed mine would only be 900ft from James-Santee Elementary-Middle School—far too close. The Charleston County Board of Zoning Appeals denied their request, and Blessing Investments sued the Board over the denial.

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project, on behalf of the Conservation League and Friends of Coastal South Carolina, filed a motion to intervene in November and the court granted intervention in December. This will allow our groups to protect our member’s interests in this action. 


West Cox Ferry Road Mine 

A mine operating permit application for West Cox Ferry Road Sand Mine was withdrawn on March 11: a major win for the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge. Moss Park Partners II, LLC withdrew its permit application to mine nearly 5 acres of sand and clay in Conway, and there has been no indication that a new application will be submitted. This mine would have been surrounded by the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge on three sides, impacting water quality, increased polluted stormwater runoff, reduced ecosystem services, and reduced flood mitigation potential. It was yet another example of a mine on the edge of conservation land that is supposed to be protected in perpetuity. 

Old Gillard Mine in Berkeley County, South Carolina / Jon Engle

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