The proposed mining site near the Okefenokee.

The proposed mining site near the Okefenokee. / GPB News

The Army Corps of Engineers extended the deadline for public comment on a proposal to mine for heavy minerals near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Comments are now due May 28.

The Corps has also scheduled a virtual meeting about the project for May 13.

Environmental groups requested the extension, citing the coronavirus and the volume of supporting documents submitted by the mining company, Twin Pines.

Corps spokesman Billy Birdwell said Friday that the agency had already gotten more than 15,000 comments.

“So we think that the word has gotten out and there has been sufficient time for, for people to make those comments,” he said.

Birdwell said the rate of comments had been comparable to the original comment period for the project last year.

Earlier this year, mining company Twin Pines Minerals withdrew the application, then resubmitted an updated one. The new version calls for a smaller mining area for the first phase of the controversial project.

Opponents of the mine contend it would disrupt the swamp ecosystem and harm endangered species that rely on the Okefenokee.