Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the M Ranch?
M Ranch is located in rural western St Lucie County east and west of Carlton Road and north of Glades Cut-Off Road.
How large is M Ranch?
M Ranch is just over 2,300 acres in total.
How much of the property will be used for the mining operation?
Only about 5% of M Ranch’s total contiguous property (2,300 acres) would be used for the mining operation. The actual area identified for mining is 80 acres. An additional 51 acres would be used for buffering and about 33 acres for staging activities.
Will there still be agriculture on the property?
Yes, approximately 93% of the total M Ranch property will continue to be agricultural. Current agricultural activities include cattle ranching, row crops, peaches, and beekeeping. Future plans include a sod and hay farm and an organic nursery that will include leafy greens and other vegetables and fruits. The owners are working with sustainable farming advocates and other professionals to incorporate the latest practices in land management, environmental stewardship and regenerative farming methods.
Why are high quality fill material (soil) and base rock needed in the local economy?
In just a 10-mile radius of M Ranch, there are thousands of undeveloped acres. More than 40,000 homes have already been approved for development in this area, along with two large FPL solar facilities. Development along the Treasure Coast I-95 Jobs Corridor in the Tradition, Southern Grove and Wilson Grove areas will continue.
These materials are valuable resources needed by the local construction industry for new residential and commercial developments, as well as county, city, and state road construction projects throughout St. Lucie County.
Where does the fill material and rock come from now?
Fill and rock are currently being sourced and fulfilled from mines which are frequently located far outside of the area. This intense demand from the construction industry results in truckloads of materials being shipped long distances, impacting miles and miles of St. Lucie County roadways and driving up costs of construction. Many local mines are running out of material. Much of the existing material has already been reserved by contractors and therefore no new material is available for the proposed 40,000 homes.
How close will the mining operation be from its neighbors?
The actual processing of the materials at the mine site is more than 500 feet from its closest neighbors.
Who are the customers for the mined rock?
Roadway contractors, developers, local builders, municipalities, and improvement districts and regulatory agencies who are creating stormwater improvement projects, parks, infrastructure (roads, bridges, utilities) and constructing residential housing and commercial sites, all of which need high quality fill material (soil), and base rock. These materials are a valuable resource needed to support the growth and infrastructure improvements of St. Lucie County and the Treasure Coast area.
Can the owner expand the size of the mine without permission of St. Lucie County?
NO. While previous owners obtained State permits for a 930-acre soil and aggregate mine, M Ranch is seeking to modify the existing State permit and obtain a new County permit, reducing the scope of the approved mine from 930 acres to 164 acres, significantly reducing the size of the mining area from the original state permitted mine.
If approved, what type of mining will occur at M Ranch?
The M Ranch mine would use a method called wet mining to extract materials from lower underground depths. This process minimizes noise and dust. The M Ranch mine will NOT use any methods of blasting on the site.
What are the hours of operation of the mine?
The hours of operation for the mining activities will be from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. The hours of offsite hauling operations will be from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. No operation on Sunday or on County holidays are allowed except in an emergency event declared by the St. Lucie County Administrator.
How long will mining operations continue?
The mine is expected to operate for 7 to 10 years.
How many people will be employed at the mine?
There are typically 7 to 10 employees engaged in the daily operations at a small mine.
How will the trucks enter and exit the property?
Controls will be installed that will require all trucks accessing the mine site to enter and exit using the private Haul Road that runs through the adjacent M Ranch property. Trucks will enter and exit directly onto Glades Cut-Off Road, south of Carlton Road, which will be the mine’s main entrance. The trucks will not cross Carlton Road and will be well monitored and signed to avoid the use of Carlton Road. These controls will ensure that any truck traffic associated with the mine will not impact the neighboring uses.
What impact will the mine have on local traffic?
The mine is within a 10-mile radius of most of the residential and commercial development already approved by St. Lucie County and the City of Port St. Lucie. The materials from M Ranch mine would be transported short distances (within that 10-mile radius) to local construction sites on Glades Cut-Off Road and Range Line Road.
Sourcing the materials locally from M Ranch mine will minimize the overall travel time, fuel consumption, and roadway impacts compared to trucks traveling from greater distances. The project traffic study has determined that truck traffic will have a moderately low effect on current traffic conditions.
A Haul Road through the owner’s private property would access the mine at the southwest corner of the site from Glades Cut-Off, keeping more traffic on the site and routed away from Carlton Road and neighboring residents. No access from Carlton Road is being proposed for mine operations.
Will the mine operations affect school bus pick up and drop offs on Carlton Road?
The mine operations are not anticipated to affect school bus pick up and drop offs, as any truck access to Carlton Road has been eliminated through the use of the Haul Road. The traffic on Glades Cut-off Road will be minimal (at an estimated maximum of 24 trips an hour) and won’t be adding any different form of traffic than already exists.
Will the mine use any noisy blasting methods?
No. The M Ranch mine will NOT use any blasting methods in its mining operation.
What kind of sound and landscaping buffers will be around the mine?
The entire mine operation will be surrounded by a sodded berm, and the Carlton Road frontage will further buffer the site with a sodded 12-foot berm and additional landscape/tree/shrub buffer to obscure the site and enhance dust control.
There will be an additional 200-foot setback with 51 acres of land separating the mining operation from the surrounding agriculture community.
Once mining operations cease and construction of the Reclamation Plan begins, exotic vegetation will be removed and then replanted with native species to retain and maintain a buffer along Carlton Road.
The mine operation will use a private, improved agricultural Haul Road between Carlton Road and Glades Cutoff Road to avoid the use of public roads. The Haul Road is buffered along the south side.
What types of operating practices will be used to minimize noise, dust, air contaminants and vibration?
- The mine will operate using a wet mining process that can include a dredge, excavator, or dragline equipment, followed by a crusher or screen, and stacker, or by wet-dredging. The product is then pumped or transported to a crusher located in the processing area pr or adjacent to the active mining operation.
- In addition to berms, noise mitigation measures such as acoustic fencing or acoustic structures may be used if needed.
- Stockpiles will be located at least 200 feet from all property lines and at least 500 feet from any residences. To minimize dust, stockpiles will average 3-5% moisture content.
- The proposed Haul Road will be constructed using the existing gravel road on the property which will be widened with shell rock/gravel and be regularly maintained.
- The eastern portion of the mine loop road will be constructed with asphalt milling materials. Those materials will be spread and densified with a water/soap material, compacted/graded and then an environmentally friendly water-based asphalt emulsion will be applied.
- A water truck will be used to wet the mining areas and the haul road to mitigate or eliminate any dust.
- No blasting will be permitted.
Is there a concern with silica being mined on the property?
Silica is not specifically being mined on the property. Coquina rock is a combination of fossilized marine shells along with variable amounts of sand, which is largely composed of silica. Silica, also called silicon dioxide, exists throughout the natural world. It is a common natural compound made of the two most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust – silicon and oxygen. Silica is an essential component of more than 95 percent of known rocks, is widely used as a safe food additive, and is an essential part of many living things, including the human body.
Silica sand has a variety of uses on golf courses and sports fields, in glassmaking, ceramics, as filtration media, and in construction materials. Silica is also the predominant makeup of sand on beaches in St. Lucie County and throughout the world. The potential hazard from silica arises when a person is in direct contact with the fine particulate that is produced by cutting, drilling, sanding, and polishing products such as bricks, tiles, concrete and mortar in a number of enclosed occupational circumstances.
Our proposed mining operation will use a process called “wet mining” Further, nationally recognized best management practices for the extraction of the rock and soil will be used at the site. Other procedures for wetting down the Haul Road and the Loop Road, and for managing transportation of the materials will also be in place to ensure dust is controlled. Berms and landscaping also will limit dust movements. The mining operation is subject to many specific controls and will not pose health risks to the public.
What impact, if any, will the mine have on other agriculture, aquaculture and cattle operations in the area?
M Ranch mine will be permitted by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Both regulatory agencies require M Ranch to avoid impacts to agriculture, aquaculture, and cattle to receive approval. M Ranch has also contracted with a groundwater hydrologist to conduct a thorough Groundwater Hydrological Analysis to confirm there will be no negative impacts.
Will the mine operation have any effect on area wells, water table or aquifer?
Dewatering for the mining operation will be short term for the first months of the operation. The over burden will be placed in the Temporary Impoundment Area. As part of the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) permitting requirements, M Ranch will be required to do site specific modelling and groundwater analysis before any dewatering can occur to ensure area wells, water table and the aquifer are not negatively impacted. In the mining process after the initial dewatering, the
Will the mining operations have any effect on the C-23 and C-24 canals?
Dewatering, as well as stormwater management, are two elements of water resource management for the mining operations that must be permitted by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). These dewatering and stormwater resources will be maintained in separate areas on the mine site and will not be commingled.
A more detailed explanation of dewatering and stormwater management is explained below.
Dewatering: A South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Dewatering Permit requires that the dewatered groundwater remain on-site and be maintained at the water quality and quantity levels that existed prior to the start of the mining operation. SFWMD permits for dewatering are required for the first 15 to 20 feet of mine depth. This allows the initial mining of fill materials (soils) to be excavated as dry material. As the soil is dewatered, the groundwater will be placed in the adjacent impoundment areas within the mine site.
After the first 15 to 20 feet of excavation, the mine site will be dredged through a “wet mining” process and dewatering will no longer be needed. The dewatered groundwater and dredged water will not be discharged into the C-23 and C-24 canals or any adjacent agricultural ditches and will remain on-site.
Stormwater: The mining operation must comply with South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Environmental Resource Permits (ERPs) for stormwater management including the storage, treatment, conveyance and discharge of stormwater. The mine site and the adjacent Haul Road will store and treat rainwater in swales and dry retention areas.
After the site meets state water quality treatment and water quantity requirements, the stormwater will then be conveyed and discharged into adjacent agricultural canals that ultimately discharge to the C-23 and C-24 canals.
The permits also require on-going monitoring of water quality and quantity throughout the life of the mine.
How can M Ranch help reduce flooding issues along Carlton Road?
Separate from the proposed mining project, M Ranch is committed to helping alleviate flooding issues along Carlton Road. M Ranch will unblock canals and ditches on their property that may have been filled in by a previous owner. Other stormwater retrofits and ways to use the mine-lake as part of the St. Lucie County Master Drainage System are viable alternatives that will be discussed with County Commissioners and Staff.
What will be the mine’s impact on wildlife?
An independent wetland and wildlife report identified crested caracara, sandhill crane, American alligator, little blue heron, tri-colored heron and the wood stork as species that have been seen on the property. There is also habitat for the eastern indigo snake, although none were observed. With the creation of the littoral shelf and submerged berm, there will be additional habitat created for most of these species when the mine is closed, the project is completed and properly reclaimed. Also, since M Ranch contains an additional ±2,100 acres, the effect on species that inhabit the site should be minimal if any.
What happens to the mine once the operations are over?
Once operations cease (after 7-10 years), the mine will be transformed into a stormwater retrofit area as part of a required Reclamation Plan and will become a long-term environmental benefit to the region. It will provide much needed water quality treatment and offer local flood control for adjacent county roads and properties.
The reclamation plan will include littoral shelves on the 80-acre mine-lake. A littoral shelf is a shallow shelf in a water body that is planted with native aquatic vegetation to help filter out the nutrients and minerals in the water prior to it entering the pond and then exits through an out-flow structure. The littoral shelf will attract wetland dependent species, and an upland buffer will provide roosting, loafing and nesting opportunities for wildlife.