From the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:
UPDATED Sept. 6-7, 2016, with information from Public Notice and more.
LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, its proposed decision to grant a mining permit to Aquila Resources for the Back Forty Project -- a proposed gold, zinc and copper mine and processing facility in Lake Township, Mich. -- and a public hearing to be held October 6, 2016.
The MDEQ determined the application meets the requirements for approval under Michigan’s mining law, Part 632 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, which requires that mining operations must be protective of natural resources, the environment, and public health and safety.
As part of the decision-making process, the MDEQ is seeking comments from interested persons on the proposed mining permit decision, as well as two other pending permit decisions for the project: an air emissions permit and a surface waters discharge permit (NPDES, or National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit). The MDEQ will hold one consolidated hearing and public comment period for all three permit decisions to ensure convenience for citizens. A fourth permit application for impacts to wetlands will be considered by the MDEQ in a separate review process.*
The public hearing will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. CST on Thursday, Oct. 6, at Stephenson High School gymnasium, located at W526 Division Street, Stephenson, Mich., to accept public comment on the proposed decisions. Throughout the hearing hours, technical staff of the MDEQ will be available in an area adjacent to the hearing room to answer questions regarding the MDEQ’s reviews and proposed actions. In order to accommodate the anticipated number of speakers, presentations will be limited to five minutes. Written comments will also be received at the hearing.
Interested persons may submit written comments by mail or e-mail until 5 p.m. November 3, 2016. Mail your comments to DEQ Back Forty Comments, Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855. E-mail your comments regarding the Back Forty Mine Project to the designated MDEQ mailbox at DEQ-Mining-Comments@michigan.gov. All verbal and written comments presented during the hearing and comment period will be considered prior to making a final decision on each of the proposed actions.
Individuals needing accommodations for effective participation at the hearing should contact Tina Coluccio, 906-228-4524 one week in advance of the hearing date to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance.
The MDEQ is required by law to issue a final mining permit decision on or before December 1, 2016. However, the decision date may be extended if additional information from Aquila is needed to address issues raised by public comments.
Aquila submitted its permit application on November 11, 2015. A team of technical experts from the MDEQ and Michigan Department of Natural Resources carried out a thorough review of the application and required Aquila to submit extensive additional information. The MDEQ also held a public meeting on the application on January 5, 2016, and received public comments throughout the review process.
Click here to access the Mining Permit Application and other documents.
Click here for the air permit information.
Click here for info on the NPDES permit and related documents.
For more information about Aquila Resources and the Back Forty project, visit the Aquila Web site: www.aquilaresources.com/projects/back-forty-project.
For more information about the MDEQ, visit: www.michigan.gov/deq.
* Editor's Note: For more details, see Keweenaw Now's Sept. 1, 2016, article, "MDEQ to hold October public hearing on Aquila Back Forty mining project near Menominee River; public comment period continues."