Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Letter: Will mining in the Porkies ever be "safe"?

[Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now received the following letter in February in response to our Feb. 12, 2018, article on Highland Copper's mining exploration in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, aka, the Porkies. See this featured article by clicking on the link in our right-hand column or click here. We regret the delay in posting this letter and other articles. Keweenaw Now's editor is experiencing temporary vision issues, making it difficult to post in a timely manner.]

Dear Editor,

The fact that the Mining Action Group of UPEC (Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition) was consulted before the Feb. 6 press release by the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) is good news for the public and our environment. They and Highland Copper Co. representatives went to great lengths to assure us they would be on their best behavior this year. The company will have its engineer with the drilling subcontractor; the former, we were told, has the authority to stop drilling should weather conditions lead to thawing of the ground. The DNR said it would have its personnel regularly checking that no new harm comes to the Porkies.

However, I'm left wondering whether the recent press releases from the DNR have been carefully designed to prevent future blow back against the DNR, the state agency that manages the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. When these damages were first investigated and reported, the public responded with outrage -- drilling in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness!? Everyone assumed that the Porkies were safe from mining activities -- unfortunately, that isn't true. Folks are shocked.

The Porcupine Mountains are iconic in the minds of Michigan citizens, but the DNR suggests that copper mines and wilderness areas are compatible. The message from DNR seems to be "Don't worry, the Porkies will retain a pristine surface even if Highland Copper Co. is blasting copper underneath the Park."

Is the DNR trying to convince the public that they want this mine? Mining impacts will include light pollution, mine waste, water quality concerns, vibrations, noise, dust, ore trucks, mine waste permanently stored along the shoreline of Lake Superior, and more. The Copperwood Mine would be across the road from the Porkies -- maybe literally underneath our hiking boots. Who wants that?

Horst Schmidt, President, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition

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