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E-M:/ New sulfide ore mines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

April 5, 2004

Contact:  Patricia Spitzley
               (517) 241-7397

DEQ Establishes Mining Work Group

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has announced the
formation of a new work group to review state laws and regulations on
metallic mineral mining.  The work group is the result of concerns over
mineral exploration in the western Upper Peninsula that may lead to the
opening of new mines.

Mining companies have recently identified deposits of zinc, copper,
nickel, gold, silver, and possibly other metals at two locations-one in
southern Menominee County and the other in northern Marquette County.
The companies are drilling additional test borings in both areas to
determine whether the deposits are of the size and quality required for
a profitable mining operation.  If a decision is made to proceed with
mining, it could be as much as three to five years before an actual
mining operation begins.

Most of the metals in the deposits are chemically combined with sulfur
to form metallic sulfides.  If sulfide ores or associated waste rock are
exposed to water and air, they form sulfuric acid, and if properly
contained and managed, the resulting acid rock drainage can contaminate
groundwater and surface water with acids and dissolved metals.

The UP has a long history of metal mining, beginning with the mining of
copper by Native Americans.  At one time, Michigan was the world's
leading source of copper, and still ranks second among the states in
iron ore production.  Michigan mines have also produced gold, silver,
and other metals, as well as having metallic sulfide mines in the
past-most notably the White Pine Mine in Ontonagon County.  Most of the
metals previously mined in Michigan have been either pure metallic
copper or iron oxides, which do not generally cause acid rock drainage

Mining activities are subject to a variety of environmental and public
health laws that apply to all industrial operations.  These laws require
permits and set standards for discharges to surface water, groundwater,
and air; construction involving floodplains, wetlands, and lakes and
streams; handling and disposal of liquid and solid wastes; spill
prevention and containment; protection of endangered species; and other
related issues.  In addition, Michigan's mine reclamation law sets
standards for the stabilization, revegetation, and restoration of land
affected by open pit mining operations, and for managing toxic or
acid-forming wastes.

The DEQ, local citizens, and several environmental and conservation
organizations have stated that state laws need to be strengthened to
address the potential environmental impacts of new sulfide mines and
processing facilities.  Last year, the DEQ and the Department of Natural
Resources began a review of state regulations that apply to mining, and
held several meetings and discussions with concerned citizens and
organizations.  Due to the level of public concern, the six state
legislators whose districts cover the UP asked DEQ Director Steven E.
Chester to expand the review process by establishing a formal
stakeholder work group.

The DEQ has contacted citizen activists, conservation and environmental
groups, local government officials, and mining companies and invited
them to participate in the work group.  The work group will be
co-chaired by the DEQ and DNR, with the first meeting to be held within
a month.

"It is vital to hear the concerns of everyone who has an interest in
this issue," said Director Chester.  "The DEQ needs to ensure that
necessary protective measures are in place before a new sulfide mine can
be considered."  He has set a deadline of 120 days from the first
meeting for the work group to submit recommendations on needed
improvements to state laws and regulations.


Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

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