Friday, June 21, 2013

Opinion: Rio Tinto sale of Eagle Mine to Lundin Mining Corp. raises questions

By Gene Champagne*
Submitted June 21, 2013

Concerning Rio Tinto's sale of the Eagle Mine project to Lundin Mining Corporation, there is not much to react to. The permit is currently the same. The legality of the permit remains an issue, as the DEQ ignored the law and rules in granting it. The amendment for electricity remains fraudulent. I actually feel somewhat sorry for Lundin. I do not know what Rio Tinto told them, or failed to tell them, but they are in for a big surprise and probably a world of hurt.

There are reasons other than strict economic tightening that are causing Rio Tinto to give away this mine for dimes on the dollar for what they have sunk into it. I remember Jon Cherry, in a Mining Journal article a couple of years ago during an economic slowdown, stating that Eagle was a "world-class ore body" and that Kennecott (at that time) would not abandon it. Looks like the "woodshed" is pretty bare now, eh?

Rio Tinto and DEQ officials will still have to answer some very uncomfortable questions concerning their collusion in forming the non-profit Northern Michigan Geologic Repository Association (NMGRA). The answers could result in criminal complaints being filed.**

The list goes on. Is Lundin aware of the ongoing environmental issues that were not anticipated at the mine? I hope, without much hope, that the DEQ demands a more realistic and much higher financial assurance from Lundin, as this is their only mine in the U. S. and they can disappear into the night a whole lot easier than Rio Tinto/Kennecott.

Will Rio Tinto be allowed to leave with all of their financial insurance money? Will Lundin count workers from Canada as local hires, much as Rio Tinto considered workers from Wisconsin to be local? Lundin obviously will have to overcome much public skepticism and mistrust that has been created by Rio Tinto.

Editor's Notes:

* Guest writer Gene Champagne is a member of Concerned Citizens of Big Bay.

** See our June 18, 2013, article, "Citizens demand federal investigation of collusion between state regulators and mining industry."

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