July 3, 2012
LA CROSSE, WIS. -- HudBay Minerals has severed its business ties with Aquila Resources at the proposed Back Forty gold mine in Menominee County, Michigan. The metallic sulfide mine is planned to be built almost directly under the Menominee River in the Upper Peninsula, a stone’s throw from Wisconsin’s Marinette County.
"This threatens both Wisconsin and Michigan waters," said Al Gedicks, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council. "HudBay’s proposed mine could severely pollute the Menominee River, affecting citizens downstream in Marinette County, Wisconsin."
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources considered the HudBay mine a Wisconsin issue.
The Back Forty project was one of several gold prospects under development by Aquila Resources, a Canadian company that is exploring for gold at several sites in Wisconsin, including the "Reef" deposit near Wausau and the Lynne site in Oneida County.
A groundswell of citizen opposition has delayed a decision to allow Aquila Resources and two other mining companies from leasing the Lynne deposit.
"A sulfide mine at Lynne poses a clear conflict with our goals of protecting our water resources," said Karl Fate, an Oneida County concerned citizen. "Approximately half of the deposit footprint is covered by wetlands that extend in every direction but the south," said Fate.
The Willow Flowage, just downstream from the proposed mine, is designated as an "Outstanding Resource Water" by the state.
Citizen concerns about the mine’s potential damage to wetlands and the Willow Flowage convinced Noranda Minerals of Canada to abandon the project in 1993.
Both Michigan and Wisconsin opponents of metallic sulfide mining welcome HudBay’s announcement but note the need for continued citizen vigilance to guarantee that common sense conservation prevails.
"We will continue to work with other citizen and tribal groups to protect our water resources from poorly-conceived mining projects in Wisconsin and throughout the upper Great Lakes region," said Al Gedicks.