Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s Mining Technical Review Team has submitted formal comments on the permit application for proposed stream and wetland fill for the Copperwood Project in Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula.
Orvana’s tailings disposal site would have a footprint of 346 acres and would fill in approximately 52 acres of wetlands and 13,672 feet of streams. The tailings disposal facility is predicted to release between 24-62 million gallons of leachate into the environment per year. Once mining ceases and the water treatment facility is decommissioned, heavy metals may migrate into soils and creeks and eventually Lake Superior.
According to KBIC’s Review Team, the applicant has not demonstrated that they have avoided and minimized negative impacts to the extent possible or given adequate consideration to viable alternatives.
Mining expert Jack Parker takes it a step further, stating that the recent hearing on the wetlands permits was premature. As with the Eagle Mine permit application, Parker contends that the mining permits are illegal, if accepted, because the application was not processed properly.
“The mining permits must be in place before we go on to consider those environmental issues,” Parker said. “Orvana made very significant changes to their mine plan and in tailings disposal, and those substitutions were accepted by the DEQ without public hearings and comments and responses to comments.”
KBIC is requesting that the permits for wetland and stream fill be denied.
Please click here for Keweenaw Now’s coverage of the June 28 hearings: