In response to comments from the public, Native American tribes, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality), the applicant made numerous improvements to its original submittal. The withdrawal and resubmittal of this application allows regulators to consider a single permit application instead of the original application with multiple corrected documents, and was necessary because of a pending deadline for resolving EPA concerns with the original application.
According to the DEQ, the revised application includes the following major improvements:
- An improved analysis of alternatives for reducing environmental impact, including a detailed review of the feasibility of placing tailings back in the mine.
- Utilizing natural channel design (versus ditches) for channels diverting existing streams around the proposed tailings basin. The new design incorporates wetland creation in the floodplain of the new stream channels.
- Raising the height of the tailings basin to reduce its footprint.
- Modifications of facilities to slightly reduce wetland impacts.
- Adding two preservation tracts totaling 820 acres to the wetland mitigation plan.
- Improving the stream mitigation plan by the creation of 10,500 feet of natural stream channel and replacement of a culvert on Two Mile Creek that is blocking brook trout passage on a tributary to the Wild and Scenic Cisco Branch of the Ontonagon River.
- More accurately characterizing the length of streams impacted by the tailings basin.
Editor's Note:See our two July 2012 articles on the June 28, 2012, MDEQ public hearing on the Orvana project: "MDEQ hearing on Orvana Copperwood air, water quality permits: Part 1, Questions" and "MDEQ public hearing on Orvana Copperwood mine: Part 2."