[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Michigan: Say NO to Kennecott, here's why.

Dear Michigan,


The article linked below my message describes preparations in Marquette for DEQ/DNR Permit Hearings next week on the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company risky proposed sulfide mine.  Yet it’s not just a Marquette or Yellow Dog Plains problem.  It’s about how we want to treat our Michigan public lands and protect clean water.  Sulfide ore mining has never been done without significant harm to water and land.  Please weigh in with your comments, they’re due to DEQ by 5pm October 17.  See below for how/when/who.


Situation:  Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company wants to dig for nickel and copper from a sulfide ore deposit that’s located a couple hundred feet below the Salmon Trout River on the Yellow Dog Plains in northern Marquette County.  Sulfide ores release sulfuric acid when in contact with air and water, leading to acid mine drainage.  Once acid formation begins it’s almost impossible to stop.  We’ve done baseline water monitoring on the Salmon-Trout for over 3 years.  Mostly consistent water temperatures during this very warm dry summer tell me it’s a mostly groundwater fed system.  That means the river is at huge risk if the mine leaks acid or leached-out metals – and that damage could come at any time in the future.  They want to dig their mine entrance hole down into publicly owned Eagle Rock, with the shaft going a couple thousand feet down and sideways to the ore located a couple hundred feet below the Salmon Trout River. 


Kennecott has NOT described the possibility of Mine Collapse.  The Salmon Trout River flows above the ore body – what happens if the mine’s crown pillar collapses?  That’s the structure left in place to hold up the top.  Acid Mine Drainage will result – and Kennecott has not described in their application what they will do if that happens.  This has GOT to be answered and planned for before any permit is granted. AND the money put up in bonds must be enough to pay for catastrophic mine failure.  Not just to mitigate, but to clean it up before it causes irreparable harm to the Salmon Trout River and to the Coaster Brook Trout.  This was absolutely spelled out in the Part 632 rules – yet Kennecott hasn’t even come close with their guesstimate.  So does this mean they’ll leave the cleanup tab for us?  That means it won’t get done because we can’t afford to clean up existing contaminated sites let alone new sites in remote places.  Kennecott has a propensity to leave behind superfund legacies, see http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/nar1428.htm for their Salt Lake City site that’s 35 square miles. Yes, miles.  See also http://www.epa.gov/Region8//superfund/ut/kennecottnorth/index.html.   And for real fun – see this report from July 2007 that describes Kennecott’s 40-years-long cleanup plan to deal with contaminated groundwater in Utah http://www.deq.utah.gov/Issues/nrd/index.htm.  I’ve not yet mentioned the infamous Greens Creek in Alaskahttp://seacc.org/Publications/GreensCreekMine.pdf, or any of the Rio Tinto contaminated sites.  Kennecott is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto.  What will Kennecott leave behind for us here in Michigan?  What will need to be cleaned up, and so close to Lake Superior?


And more – Kennecott has already substantially changed their application twice.  But they have NOT changed their Environmental Impact Assessment to match the changed application  materials.  This means the Environmental Impact Assessment is for a mine they’re no longer proposing, they might as well have written the EIA for a mine in Nebraska.  They need to provide an updated Environmental Impact Assessment for the mine they are NOW proposing, that our DEQ and DNR are considering giving permits for. 


Another huge problem - Michigan citizens own Eagle Rock – it’s a place where people go for spiritual renewal, to commune with nature.  It’s an amazing place, I’ve been there – and it’s OURS.  (If you want to see it for yourself, let me know, I’ll find people to show you.  It’s stunningly beautiful in September.)  Kennecott owns lots of land much closer to the ore body, why can’t they dig into their OWN land?  Kennecott would cut down all the trees and turn the Rock into an industrial facility with trucks and dust and stacks and diesel engines – and would fence if off at least 35 years – until 2042.  Kennecott needs Eagle Rock because it provides a cheap way to dig their mine shaft (instead of more difficult and expensive sandy soils) to get at the ore from the side so they can haul it in truckloads from below the Salmon Trout River.  Were other options even discussed??  No.  Kennecott must define “feasible and prudent alternatives” as the ones that cost them as little as possible, that transfer as much cleanup cost as possible to the rest of us.  So they want to take OUR Eagle Rock, fence it off, and then ruin it forever.  If you think this is a bad use of Michigan’s Public Lands, please contact the Natural Resources Commission members and ask them to direct DNR Director Rebecca Humphries NOT to grant the surface land use lease.  See http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-39002_11862---,00.html to find their addresses and the NRC meeting schedule.  You can contact Director Humphries directly at HUMPHRIR@michigan.gov.   


This public notice has details for hearings and written comment submission:  http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/KEP_Notice20070807_205000_7.pdf.  

Sept. 10  Marquette;  Sept. 11, 12, 13 in West Branch Community Center, Forsyth Township (Upper Peninsula); and then Sept. 19 in Lansing at the Lansing CenterFinal written comments are due by 5pm on October 17.  Submit them to DEQ-Kennecott-comments@michigan.gov.  


There is so much wrong with this proposal – the DEQ must deny this set of permits and send Kennecott back to the drawing board.  They might get their permits for risky mines out west, but they shouldn’t here in Michigan where we’re surrounded by 20% of the world’s fresh surface water.  The legacy of acid mine drainage is essentially forever, it’s almost impossible to contain or stop once begun.  And it will happen here just like everywhere else that sulfide mines have been dug. 


See all the DEQ documents at:  http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3311_4111_18442-130551--,00.html

Please write your comments soon, let us know if you have questions. 


Many thanks for hanging in this long, and sorry for duplicate emails. 

Rita Jack.








The Mining Journal - Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Sulfide mine opponents rally in Marquette

By MIRIAM MOELLER, Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Opponents of a proposed metallic sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains rallied Tuesday in advance of state hearings next week on mining-related permits.


“It’s basically to get information to the people,” said Cynthia Pryor, executive director of the Yellowdog Watershed Preserve. “It’s to resurrect all the information we already went through in March, to remind people it’s still an alive issue for the community.”


The Kennecott Eagle Project mine would focus on a six-acre underground deposit expected to yield 250 million to 300 million pounds of nickel and about 200 million pounds of copper. Mine opponents criticized Kennecott Minerals’ environmental track record.






~Rita Jack



Rita Jack

Water Sentinels Project

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

109 E. Grand River Ave.

Lansing, Michigan  48906

tel:  517-484-2372




Make all Michigan's waters fishable and swimmable.