NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) held a hybrid virtual and in-person public hearing Thursday night about the proposed Edge Road Mine.

Soilutions, LLC requested permits from DHEC for a 33-acre site on Edge Road in Horry County to mine sand and clay. The site is about 5.5 miles southwest of Wampee.

A proposed plan to restore the site to a pond and grasslands after mining ended was submitted with the mine operating permit application. 

People from the community spoke for and against the proposed mine. Most of the community members were concerned about the impact the mine could have on the environment.

Cara Schildtknecht, a Waccamaw Riverkeeper of the Winyah Rivers Alliance said one of her biggest concerns with the proposed mine is how it will impact water.

“Our concerns are around protecting water quality and protecting water quantity,” Schildtknecht said.

She said mines are not good for flood mitigation.

“I don’t know where the water’s going to go when the ponds are already full of water and we’ve removed the soils and the sand thats actually really great for absorbing those flood waters,” she said. “So its not really a good flood mitigation plan to have mines reclaimed, it just doesn’t work.”

Schildtknecht said swamps in the area would also not be able to handle the mine.

“Our swamps are becoming over burdened and it’s not going to last forever,” she said. “The swamps can’t keep doing what they’re doing as we impact them time, and time and time again.”

Another concern was the impact the mine could have on the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.

Trapper Fowler, North Coast Project Manager for Coastal Conservation League, said the mine could have permanent effects on the plants and animals there.

“Mining 50 feet in depth and 23 acres in size will impact LOB for not months, but years and possibly forever,” Fowler said.

He said one concern includes the mine’s potential to drain Carolina Bays and Wetlands on the preserve and diminishing habitats for endangered and rare species.

“Lewis Ocean Bay is globally significant in that it’s one of two areas in the world where you can find Venus flytraps growing naturally,” he said. “Venus flytraps depend on specific moisture levels and we can’t afford to lose South Carolina’s population.”

He also said the noise from the mine would disrupt animals and people.

“Predators need stillness in the woods to be able to hunt their prey, mates need to be able to hear each others calls during breeding season, mating season, and as a hunter myself, I can tell you right now I’d be extremely upset if I put the time and the effort to research and put in a tree stand only to find the racket and banging and clanging of heavy equipment and dump trucks the morning of my hunt,” he said.

Fowler also said if the wetlands are dried out it would increase the risks of fires and limit the ability to do controlled burns that many plants depend on.

Korbin Causey, a resident of Myrtle Beach, said the mine could be good for the real estate market and the economy.

“This mine has the ability to be a natural resource to not only help slow inflation, support another small local business that keeps money in your city, and keep the mark up on new construction homes down,” Causey said.

He said this is something that he thinks most people have not thought about. He said when people pay more to have materials brought to them it will make their houses cost more.

“With everyone complaining about the inflation and cost of living I actually kind of find it kind of perplexing that everyone here wouldn’t want to utilize a natural, local resource to keep the cost of construction down to slow inflation,” he said.

DHEC did not make any decisions about the mine at Thursday’s meeting. They also did not announce when the decisions would be made.

DHEC is accepting public comments about the mine through July 15.