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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Final Permit Issued For Back Forty Mine

Issue Date: June 7, 2018

Despite opposition from just about everyone on the Wisconsin side of the Menominee River, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced on Monday, June 4 that it has issued a wetlands permit for the Aquila Resources Back Forty (Aquila) mining project in Menominee County's Stephenson Township, near the banks of the Menominee River, about 15 miles upstream from Marinette, Menominee and the waters of Green Bay.

The wetlands permit is the fourth and final permit required from the DEQ before Aquila can begin the project.  The DEQ had previously issued mining, air, and surface water discharge permits for the project.

The news release issued by MDEQ on Monday states that "based on the advice and guidance from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it has issued a wetlands permit for the Aquila Resources Back Forty (Aquila) mining project in the Upper Peninsula."

It goes on to say that under the terms of the permit, the DEQ is requiring Aquila to develop an enhanced groundwater modeling and monitoring plan consistent with industry best-practices for the proposed open-pit mine before permitted mining operations can commence.

The news release states that the site-specific plan must include a wetland water budget model; collection of existing baseline groundwater and wetland data; and annual monitoring data to guard nearby wetlands against potential adverse impacts. The wetland plan must also be adaptive, with additional protective measures required if adverse water or wetland impacts are detected during the life of the project.

Aquila will also be required to develop state-of-the-art controls aimed at spill prevention and response to potential pollution releases from the mining operations including, chemicals used and stored on site, and the storage and disposal of waste rock.

Aquila must also develop a closure plan for the mine which includes a plan for returning the waste rock to the pit in a way that eliminates future impacts to surface and ground water.

Last month the EPA and Aquila resolved several objections the EPA had raised about the project near the Menominee River and Wisconsin border, creating an EPA-supported framework which the DEQ followed in drafting the permit.

"Issuance of the permit complies with the statutory required permitting deadline, while allowing Aquila to continue to collect the data necessary to develop improved site-specific models and plans that must be approved by DEQ prior to beginning mining operations," the news release concludes.

In its own news release issued in Toronto, Canada on Monday, Aquila announced that it received its wetlands, lakes, and streams permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for its zinc-and gold-rich Back Forty Project in Michigan. The Wetlands Permit was issued inclusive of specific conditions, including those requested by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (the EPA).

With the issuance by the MDEQ of the Wetlands Permit and the objections of the EPA resolved, Aquila has now received all State and Federal permissions required for the construction and commencement of operations at the Back Forty Project. The Company has already received the three other required State permits which include the Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit, and the Air Use Permit to Install, the news release states.

"This is a very significant milestone for Aquila and substantially completes a robust environmental permitting process in Michigan," said Barry Hildred, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aquila. "We can now focus the Company's resources on the pre-construction phase at Back Forty while considering funding alternatives to complete the development of the mine. I want to thank our entire expanded team for all of their efforts in helping us achieve this significant milestone, and we look forward to building a world-class project in Michigan."

The news release continues,"Aquila will continue its efforts with the State of Michigan and local communities to demonstrate our commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainable resource development that benefits all stakeholders. The Back Forty Mine will be a safe, disciplined operation that promotes and supports local community socio-economic development and is protective of the environment.

"With the receipt of the Wetlands Permit, Aquila will commence certain pre-construction activities immediately. The Back Forty open pit Feasibility Study is nearing completion, and the Company anticipates publishing the study in the coming months.

"Aquila is also working to finalize its Project Execution Plan which will further define the project development strategy including contracting philosophy, plans for basic and detailed engineering and any required permit amendments, as well as plans for building the owner's team in preparation for the construction and operational readiness phases of the Back Forty Project.  

"The Company will continue discussions with prospective financial partners to secure required project capital to build the Back Forty Project. Aquila, with the assistance from its advisors, will consider all available strategic and financial options to the Company and the Project," the release continues.

It goes on to say that in parallel with pursuing pre-construction activities, "the Company is currently finalizing plans for an exploration program at Back Forty that will seek to test additional targets and further define the underground potential of the deposit, where mineralization remains open at depth.

"Aquila is also evaluating its strategy concerning its exploration stage Bend and Reef projects in Wisconsin in light of the recent repeal of the decades-old moratorium on non-ferrous mining in the state.

"With its current cash resources and an additional $47.5 million in staged payments available to the Company under its gold stream purchase agreement with Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd, Aquila is well-financed to complete its planned pre-construction and exploration activities," the release adds.

It concludes, "Aquila's flagship Back Forty Project is an open pit volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit with underground potential located along the mineral"rich Penokean Volcanic Belt in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Project contains approximately 1.1 billion pounds of zinc and 1 million ounces of gold in the Measured & Indicated categories, with additional upside potential. Aquila has received all State and Federal permissions required for the construction and commencement of operations at the Back Forty Project.

The Company has three other exploration projects: Reef Gold Project located in Marathon County, Wisconsin, the Bend Project located in Taylor County, Wisconsin and Aquila Nickel located in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Reef is a gold-copper property and Bend is a volcanogenic massive sulfide occurrence containing copper and gold."

Aquila sources have previously said the proposed mine is expected to produce 721 million pounds of zinc, 74 million pounds of copper, 21 million pounds of lead, 4.6 million ounces of silver and 532,000 ounces of gold.

Their press release concludes with a cautionary statement, required by Canadian securities laws, that it contains "forward looking statements" based on assumptions that may or may not turn out as anticipated.

The disclaimer continues, "Forward"looking statements relate to any matters that are not historical facts and statements of our beliefs, intentions and expectations about developments, results and events which will or may occur in the future, without limitation, statements with respect to additional upside potential of the Back Forty Project, the status of a Feasibility Study in respect of Back Forty, the permitting status of the Back Forty Project and Aquila's future exploration and development plans.

"These and other forward"looking statements and information are subject to various known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond the ability of Aquila to control or predict, that may cause their actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied...(including)... the status of a Feasibility Study in respect of Back Forty, the permitting status of the Back Forty Project and Aquila's future exploration and development plans."

Local Aquila spokesmen say the company will begin pre-construction activities immediately, including completion of a feasibility study, finalization of a project execution plan to allow preparation for construction and operational readiness and continued discussion with investors.

The DEQ provided 51 pages of requirements and conditions to be met as part of the wetland permits Aquila's technical experts are still reviewing those, but company spokesman Dan Blondeau has been quoted as saying they can work within their perameters. The next step will be to put together some plans as required by the DEQ and to expand the baseline wetlands data the company already has been gathering, to meet the new DEQ requirements. Blandeau is quoted as saying there is still a lot of preconstruction engineering work to be done, and construction will almost certainly not start this year.

The company and supporters say the mine would provide jobs and an overall economic boost to an area that has depended on mining jobs for generations.

Opponents, who have pledged to continue their opposition, say the open pit sulfide mine will ruin the values of properties in its immediate vicinity on both the Wisconsin and Michigan sides of the river, disrupt tourism, and threaten water quality down river and possibly into Green Bay andLake Michigan should a breach occur.

Marinette and Oconto County boards, along with other counties and numerous area municipalities, have adopted resolutions opposing development of the mine.

The Menominee Tribe of Indians have staunchly opposed the mine, arguing that it encroaches on historic ancestral sites and the raised gardens of their forefathers.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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