Thursday, November 25, 2010

MDNRE to hold public meeting on Kennecott mining permit amendment request Dec. 7

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE), Office of Geological Survey (OGS), will conduct a public meeting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, at the Westwood High School Auditorium, 300 Westwood Drive, Ishpeming, on a request for an amendment to extend electric power from County Road AAA to the power house located in the mining area of Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company (KEMC) Mining Permit MP 01 2007.

Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, Section 63207(6) requires a permittee to request an amendment for anticipated changes in the mining operation including, if applicable, amendments to the environmental impact assessment and to the mining, reclamation, and environmental protection plan.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for interested parties to obtain information and provide comments on the amendment request.

In their letter to the MDNRE requesting the permit amendment, Kennecott claims diesel generators were the best power option available to them at the time of the permit application; but, now that electric power infrastructure is in place, they can connect to it for their mining operations and eliminate the diesel fuel.

The letter from KEMC states, "KEMC is committed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions both locally and globally. Eliminating the continuous operation of the three permitted diesel generators will result in an estimated reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the facility by over 80%. The net savings in CO2 emissions by using off-site power from Alger Delta will exceed an estimated 3000 tonnes per year."*

The DNRE is required by law to make a determination on or before Dec. 15, 2010, as to whether the amendment request constitutes a significant change from the conditions of the Mining Permit. Written and verbal comments may be submitted to the DNRE at the public meeting. Written comments may also be submitted by email by 5 p.m. Dec. 8, 2010, or by mail postmarked not later than Dec. 6, 2010, to the following address:
Mail: Steven E. Wilson
Office of Geological Survey
Environmental Resource Management Division, DNRE
P.O. Box 30256
Lansing, MI 48909

From the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, posted Nov. 23, 2010:

BIG BAY -- As stated in the original permit, the company planned to use diesel generations to power the operation. Since then, KEMC changed course, working with Alger Delta Electric Cooperative to run an underground cable through a previously unpowered area. The new line, which is in the process of being built, branches from County Road 550, up County Road 510, then up County Road AAA.

This October 2010 photo shows power lines being run along the AAA Road leading to the Eagle Mine before Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. (KEMC) requested an amendment to their mining permit. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Groups such as the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve have expressed disappointment in the fact that a mining permit amendment was deemed unneccessary for running the underground cable before now, even though KEMC is paying for the cable and will be the only user. These activities were considered "outside" of the mining operation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment. According to them, a permit amendment is required, however, to finishing running the underground cable from the AAA road to the compound, a distance of perhaps 200 feet or less.

*To view the letter requesting the amendment, click here.
To view the MDNRE response, click here.
Click here to view the Power Map.

Editor's Note: See also the Sept. 21, 2010, article, "Michigan Regulators Unsure How To Enforce Changes to Rio Tinto’s Eagle Mine," by Gabriel Caplett, in Headwaters News.

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