See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

NMU to host Native speaker, veteran of Wisconsin sulfide mining wars, Mar. 11

MARQUETTE -- Northern Michigan University's Center for Native American Studies will host guest speaker Ken Van Zile (Sokaogon Chippewa) at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 11, in Jamrich 105.

Van Zile is a veteran of the Wisconsin sulfide mining wars from the 1980s and 1990s. He will talk about his community's fight against the Crandon Mine and for the earth. He will be sharing his wisdom for Aimee Cree Dunn's class, NAS 342, Indigenous Environmental Movements. The presentation is free and open to the public.

CCGAP to host potluck with presentation on history of their work in Guatemala and Copper Country Mar. 10

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project (CCGAP) is hosting a potluck supper and talk with pictures to review their history of work in Guatemala and the Copper Country on Sunday, March 10, at the First United Methodist Church in Hancock.

Sue Ellen Kingsley, CCGAP executive director, with friends in Fronterizo, the Guatemala village where she was an accompanier and which she visits often. (File photo © Karen Endres and courtesy CCGAP)

The soup/potluck will begin at 5:30 p.m. (EDT), followed by the presentation at 6 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

CCGAP is celebrating 15 years of supporting human rights accompaniers in Guatemala as a form of violence prevention. In addition, their mission includes educating people in our North American community about conditions in non-overdeveloped countries like Guatemala. They have brought visitors from Guatemala to the Copper Country and helped local residents to visit Guatemala as well.

Click here to learn more and see more photos on the CCGAP Web site.

Wiggins: This Is about Humanity

By Barbara With
Posted March 8, 2013, on United in Defense of the Water*
Reprinted in part with permission.

MADISON, WIS. -- Yesterday [Thursday, March 7], the Wisconsin Assembly passed AB/SB1, the new mining bill. And because of SB2, which changes the way a law is enacted, there will be no more ten-day waiting period for the Secretary of State to publish it. As soon as it is signed, it will become law.

Citizens United in Defense of the Water at Mike Wiggins Jr. press conference on March 7, 2013, in the Wisconsin Capitol, Madison. (Photo © and courtesy Barbara With. Reprinted with permission.)

Throughout the debate yesterday, Republicans appeared to be representing the mining company. Their arguments were weak, and they repeated their misinformation and lies over and over. No matter how passionate, truthful, measured, or clear the Democrats were in their debate, the Republicans rejected the truth, refused to accept any amendments brought forward, and in the end, as we expected, passed the bill along party lines.

Meanwhile, at a press conference, Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr. and several members of the Tribal Nations came together to show solidarity with Bad River. ...
Click here to read the rest of this article and see a video excerpt from Mike Wiggins' press conference.
Click here to see a second video clip, "Solidarity Among the Tribes."

* Author Barbara With is a citizen journalist reporting on mining issues in Wisconsin. Click here to learn more about United in Defense of the Water, a coalition of citizens dedicated to the protection of Lake Superior and all the waters of Wisconsin.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Celebrate Youth Arts Month 2013 through Mar. 30 at Community Arts Center

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock is featuring artwork from area elementary, middle, and high school students March 9-30 for Celebrate Youth Arts Month 2013. This is an exhibit not to be missed! The Youth Gallery and the Kerredge Gallery at the CCCAC will be filled floor to ceiling with amazing youth art.

Drawing by Cady Sever, Grade 12, Calumet High School. (Image courtesy Community Arts Center) 

The opening reception will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 9, at the Arts Center. Youth artwork will also be featured in The Daily Mining Gazette throughout the month.

March is a time when these young artists get to shine. And it’s a time not only to celebrate youth art, but to appreciate the art teachers who work throughout the school year encouraging and inspiring their students.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock.  Call 482-2333 for more information.

Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to host forum on mining and Native land, cultural sites March 10

HOUGHTON -- The Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF) will host a forum -- "How will mining impact Native land and cultural sites?" -- at 10:30 a.m. (EDT) on Sunday, March 10, at BHK Center Conference Room, one block off M26 in west Houghton (turn at Hilltop Restaurant). Childcare will be provided. (Please remember to turn your clock one hour forward by 2 a.m. Sunday morning for Daylight Savings Time.)

Guest presenters will be Jessica Koski, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) mining technical assistant, and Chuck Brumleve, KBIC environmental mining specialist.

This forum is the first in a series of six monthly presentations on Mining in the Upper Peninsula and its role in the economy, society and environment.

The forum is free and open to the public. If you do not find parking in the BHK parking lot, please consider parking in the upper parking lot (along road to Econo) and coming in the upper door at the that parking lot (there is elevator or stairs to access the Conference Room).

Khana Khazana to feature Indian cuisine March 8

HOUGHTON -- Khana Khazana, a weekly ethnic lunch cooked and served by international students at Michigan Tech, features Indian food this Friday, March 8. Chanderika Abhang and Rohit Bhute will cook mughlai chicken with a mild, creamy sauce; kanda pithla, a vegetarian dish flavored with a blend of Indian spices; and vegetable raita, an assortment of vegetables on a bed of beaten curd flavored with chili and cumin.

Khana Khazana is served from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Food Court. A full meal costs $6.95 and includes a fountain beverage. Individual items are available for $2.50 each. Vegetarian alternatives are offered.

Khana Khazana is a collaboration of international students and Michigan Tech Dining Services. It is open to the community as well as campus.

Great Bear Chase Square Dance to be March 9

CALUMET -- The fourth annual Great Bear Square Dance will be held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. this Saturday, March 9, at the Omphale Gallery and Café in Calumet.

The caller will be Donn Christesen who races in the Great Bear Ski Race. Music will be by the Great Bear Band. The dance is open to all. Everyone is welcome. A $5 donation is appreciated.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

MDEQ to hold public hearing on Rio Tinto air permit for Eagle Mine Mar. 12; comment period extended to Mar. 18

[Editor's Note: Please see below for UPDATES. Also, we have corrected our error on the day of the hearing. We originally stated the hearing as scheduled for Monday, but it will be Tuesday, March 12.]

MARQUETTE -- The comment period on Rio Tinto's Permit to Install Application No. 50-06B for proposed modifications to the Eagle Project near Big Bay, Mich., has been extended to March 18, 2013. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, March 12, 2013, in the Northern Michigan University, University Center, Michigan/Huron Room, 1401 Presque Isle Avenue, Marquette, Mich.

The modifications include eliminating on-site ore crushing, adding an enclosed aggregate storage building, and eliminating the fabric filter dust collector, along with other changes.*

An informational session will be held from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m., at which time staff will be available to answer questions. The public hearing will follow at 7 p.m. The sole purpose of the hearing will be to take formal testimony on the record. During testimony, questions will not be answered; however, staff will be available to answer questions outside the hearing room. Individuals needing accommodations for effective participation at the hearing should contact Ms. Cari DeBruler at 517-335-4607 to request mobility, visual, hearing, or assistance.

The public comment period and hearing are to allow all interested parties the opportunity to comment on the Department’s proposed conditional approval of a Permit to Install (PTI). It has been preliminarily determined that the modification of the Eagle Project will not violate any of the Department’s rules nor the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. According to MDEQ, the facility’s impact will not exceed 80 percent of the available increments for nitrogen oxides, particulate matter less than ten microns, and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns.

Copies of the Department staff’s analysis and proposed permit conditions are available for inspection at the following locations, or you may request a copy be mailed to you by calling 517-335-4607. Please reference Permit to Install Application Number 50-06B:


LANSING: MDEQ, AQD, Constitution Hall, 3rd Floor, North Tower, 525 West Allegan Street, Lansing (Phone: 517-335-4607)

GWINN: MDEQ, AQD, 420 Fifth Street, Gwinn (Phone: 906-346-8300)

MICHIGAMME TOWNSHIP: 202 West Main Street, Michigamme (Phone: 906-323-6608)

MARQUETTE COUNTY: Clerk’s Office, Courthouse Annex, 234 West Baraga Avenue, Marquette (Phone: 906-225-8330)

The public is encouraged to present written views on the proposed permit action. Written comments should be sent to Ms. Mary Ann Dolehanty, Permit Section Supervisor, Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7760.

Comments may also be submitted from the webpage
(click on "Submit Comment" under the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine LLC, Permit to Install No. 50-06B listing). All statements received by March 18, 2013, will be considered by the decision-maker prior to final permit action.

* The Eagle Mine facility is located at 6510 AAA Road, Michigamme Township, Michigan. The New Source Review public notice documents can be viewed at

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve warns of dangerous air pollution

According to the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve (YDWP) Web site, the Yellow Dog Plains is threatened by Rio Tinto, now with the ability under law, to pollute the air until they reach the limit of the air quality standard set by the EPA. This action could bring air quality dangerously close to the air quality in places such as Detroit and Chicago. The emissions taken into consideration are only representative of the mine area itself, not including any of the diesel emissions and fugitive dust from transportation.

"If the original plan was to have this air pollution control device installed, it should stay that way. There is no reason to reduce the protective measures in order to keep this area’s resources as great as they already are, especially with such high quality waterways like the Salmon-Trout and Yellow Dog River nearby. My bet is Rio Tinto has the funds to keep this device in the plan," says Emily Whittaker, Executive Director of YDWP.

Cynthia Pryor, Board Member of YDWP, states, "We must also demand that Rio Tinto keep the promise that they made in their original permit (made as a result of public comment and pressure!) to put an air filter on the main polluting source at the site -- the MVAR (main ventilation air rise) stack. 'PROMISES KEPT' is Rio Tinto’s main motto. Let us make them hold to that promise."*

Click here to read more from YDWP.

* UPDATES: See Cynthia Pryor's detailed article about this air permit, "Analysis: Rio Tinto’s Permit Modifications," posted March 4, 2013, on savethewildup.

Comments from Rio Tinto:

On March 8, Rio Tinto's Dan Blondeau sent these comments to Keweenaw Now concerning the above article:

"Our modeled emissions are so low that a baghouse would not be effective," Blondeau writes.** "It's unnecessary to build, install and power a device that cannot guarantee a reduction in already very low emissions. The emissions were modeled using EPA method five. The models were run by MDEQ AQD (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division) and Eagle."

Blondeau also adds the following: "In December 2007, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued Rio Tinto with mine, air and groundwater discharge permits for Eagle.

"Since issuance of the original permits, we’ve refined the design of the mine, and we have identified measures that can improve overall air emissions from operations. MDEQ requires a new permit application to be filed if there is a change in quality, nature or quantity impact of emissions.

"In accordance with state regulations, Eagle prepared a new permit application which was delivered to MDEQ in 2012.

"Key changes to our mine plan relevant to emissions include, but are not limited to:
  • Funding upgrade to existing electrical power grid, therefore replacing three diesel generators originally designed to provide on-site electricity
  • Relocating ore crushing activities to the mill
  • Transferring backfill plant to the surface
  • Elimination of underground emission sources and better dust management underground
  • Fully enclosed the Coarse Ore Storage Area (COSA)
  • Paving the access road (security gate to surface facilities)."
** A baghouse is an air pollution control device. Rio Tinto believes a baghouse would not be effective now because of their refined mine design that eliminates emission sources, Blondeau explains.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-op: Resistance mounts as mining bill speeds towards final passage

By Barbara With
Posted March 3, 2013, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Co-operative

MADISON -- Bad River Tribal Chair Mike Wiggins Jr. addressed the crowd in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda on Feb. 27. His message was, "There will be no mine."

Bad River Tribal Chair Mike Wiggins Jr.(foreground, center) addresses the crowd in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda on Feb. 27, 2013. His message was, "There will be no mine." (Photo by Rebecca Kemble. Reprinted with permission,)

First claiming that new mining bill SB1 protects the environment, and then admitting that it actually allows mining companies to pollute without consequence, Sen. Tom Tiffany stepped up to take responsibility for spearheading what could become one of the worst long-term environmental and economic disasters in history of the State of Wisconsin.*

On February 27, Tea Party Republicans ignored overwhelming public outcry, abundant scientific evidence of the environmental and economic risks, violations of Federal Treaty Rights, the Public Trust Doctrine, and a coalition of elected officials from the Lake Superior Basin opposing the mine to pass SB1 out of the Wisconsin Senate. After tabling all 18 amendments offered by the Democrats, it’s now headed for a final vote in the Assembly on March 7.... Click here to read the rest of this article on the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative Web site.

* See "Senate narrowly passes contentious mining bill." and "Mining bill author admits it will cause environmental harm."