Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kennecott applies for additional 15,000 acres of state-owned mineral rights in Upper Michigan

From Stand for the Land

According to an article posted on Stand for the Land July 19, 2012, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing to lease more than 15,000 acres of state-owned mineral rights in Baraga, Houghton and Iron counties to Kennecott Eagle Minerals, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto.

The article states that the DNR contacted landowners (who own the surface rights even though the State of Michigan owns the mineral rights) in March 2012 and instructed them to contact the DNR Minerals Management Section Office by March 31, 2012, if they had questions.

A  June 27, 2012, public notice regarding the proposed mineral leasing says written comments by interested parties must be received no later than 30 days from the date of the publication (thus comments must be received by Thursday, July 26, 2012).*

Stand for the Land has written to the property owners asking that they request a public hearing on the leases.

"If Kennecott obtains mineral leases beneath the specified parcels, they will then have the right to enter the properties for mineral exploration," the article explains.  "If metals are found and determined to be feasible to mine, ownership of the surface would not prevent the mineral rights owner from mining. Surface rights owners must be compensated for any harm, but the land would become a mine."

Concerning Rio Tinto's exploration in the area, Dan Blondeau, advisor in communications and media relations for Rio Tinto, told Keweenaw Now the company would not come on a property owner's land and explore without their permission.

"We would not come onto a property owner's land and start exploring for minerals without their prior knowledge," Blondeau said. "We will always ask permission from a property owner before exploring on their land. We would not explore, drill on someone's land without their permission. That is not how we operate."

Stand for the Land is asking the DNR for a public hearing because the leases also include mineral rights on 6,900 acres of Federal Forest land and 2,500 acres of State land.

"Because these are public lands, we believe it is the DNR’s responsibility to hold a public hearing and provide for an extended comment period," the article notes.

The article notes concerns about risks to groundwater, streams and lakes, including Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, wetlands, and wildlife habitat should these leases lead to mining activity in the region.

If you have concerns or wish to request a public hearing, please write to
Shaun Lehman
DNR, Minerals Management Section
P.O. Box 30452
Lansing, MI 48909-7952

or e-mail:  with "Application 2012-3 Comments" in the Subject box.

See this complete article on Stand for the Land for more details, including a letter you can use to request a pubic hearing, a map of the mineral lease area, the surface owner notice, and information on metallic mineral leasing in Michigan.

* Click here for the Public Notice listing the properties to be leased.

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