A Mill Worker Watches Over the Loading of Powder Fine Phosphate


Major phosphate deposits were first discovered in Florida in Alachua County in the early 1880s. By the turn of the century, phosphate mining was a major industry as phosphate seams were identified in central and southwestern Florida, and mining became an essential economic engine for cities such as Dunnellon, Newberry, and Mulberry. From hand mining with wheelbarrows and picks, to large-scale mechanized mining employing hydraulic pumps and draglines, the industry changed dramatically in the course of the 20th century. Phosphate rock must be separated from the mud and other materials included in ore deposits, and deposits then transported overland to processing plants through long pipelines that channel mud slurries. In this image from 1947, a worker loads the fine-powder product of phosphate processing. Phosphate has numerous agricultural and industrial applications, but phosphate mining and processing have caused significant environmental damage, including pollution of ground and water resources and the depletion of the water in aquifers and the siphoning of water from waterways such as the Peace River.

Last updated: October 22, 2014