THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Aquila Gets Two Permits For Back 40 Mine, Need Two More
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) approved two of the four permits Aquila Resources needs to begin construction on its controversial Back Forty Mine in the Shakey Lakes area of Menominee County, Mich., very near the Menominee River that divides Menominee County, Mich. from Marinette County, Wis.
According to a news release issued Wednesday morning, Dec. 28 by MDEQ, the department announced conditional approval of two permits sought by Aquila. The permits approved are for Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, and the Michigan Air Use Permit to Install.
A decision on the two permits had been due by Thursday, Dec. 1, but MDEQ received an extension until the end of the year.
With approval of these permits the mine project has cleared two of the four major hurdles toward making the mine a reality. The company must acquire two additional permits - a National Pollution Elimination System (NPDES) permit and a permit for wetland, inland lake and stream impacts.
The MDEQ said the mining permit is not effective until the applicant acquires all necessary permits and has provided MDEQ with the required financial surety. This means no mining or site preparation may commence until those requirements are met and the permits are in hand.
MDEQ said its decision to issue the two permits came after comprehensive and detailed reviews of the applications and careful consideration of comments received throughout the review process.
This would include comments made at the public hearing held by MDEQ on Thursday, Oct. 6 in Stephenson, Mich. on the mining, air use and pollutant discharge permits. That meeting drew hundreds of people, most of them loudly opposed to the mine. Written comments were also accepted.
Opponents of the mine have spoken at public meetings, conducted walking tours, held lecture meetings and approached both Marinette and Menominee County Boards for support. Marinette County Board unanimously passed a resolution opposing the mine.
Supporters of the mine have spoken of the economic growth it will bring to the area by providing opportunities for good jobs.
Opponents express fear of environmental damage from the open pit sulfide mine, including pollution of the Menominee River. They also say the economic benefits will last only for the eight or so years that the mine is expected to be in operation. Aquila spokesmen are quoted in an Upper Peninsula Business Today publication as saying that the mine could employ more than 150 people when it is up and running, and they plan to hire locally as much as possible and will provide job training.
Elsewhere in the Upper Peninsula Business Today Aquila people refer to two mines, an underground mine and an open pit mine, and each will have a life of about eight years.