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
on the Yellow Dog Plains in northern Marquette
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,
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
I’ve not yet mentioned the infamous Greens Creek in Alaska: http://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
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
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
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
Sept. 10 Marquette; Sept.
11, 12, 13 in West Branch Community Center,
(Upper Peninsula); and then Sept. 19 in Lansing
at the Lansing Center. Final written comments are due by 5pm on October 17. Submit them to
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
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
– Rita Jack.
The Mining Journal - Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Sulfide mine opponents rally in Marquette
By MIRIAM MOELLER, Journal Staff Writer
— Opponents of a proposed metallic sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains
rallied Tuesday in advance of state hearings next week on mining-related
“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.
Water Sentinels Project
Sierra Club Michigan
109 E. Grand River
Make all Michigan's
waters fishable and swimmable.