Published: Feb 22, 2012 4:56 PM EST

FORT MEADE, Fla. (AP) - The world's largest phosphate miner has reached an agreement with environmental groups that filed suit to block the company's plans to dig up thousands of acres of wetlands.
    
In exchange for allowing mining to proceed near Fort Meade in Hardee County, Mosaic Fertilizer will buy a 4,400-acre ranch and donate it for use as a new state park.
    
The settlement was announced Tuesday. The suit was filed in 2010 in Jacksonville.
    
The company has also agreed to pull back its mining from the Peace River, to preserve 400 acres of land between the southwest mine border and the river, and also preserve about 70 acres of a type of wetlands known as bayheads that are difficult to re-create or restore.
    
Environmental groups and Mosaic both expressed satisfaction over the settlement.

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