Review panel in Michigan upholds mining permit for Back Forty Mine
Aquila Resources announced that a Michigan environmental review panel has upheld the mining permit for its Back Forty Mine, an openpit zinc and gold mine near the Menominee River, bringing the mine one step closer to production.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) panel upheld the Final Decision and Order previously made by an administrative law judge in support of the Michigan Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining Permit, the company said in a release.
Following the judge’s ruling in May 2019, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin appealed the decision to the panel, which is made up of technical experts from various fields. According to Aquila, the panel’s decision marks the final step in the contested case challenge to the mining permit that began in April 2018 and represents EGLE’s final decision.
In its unanimous decision, the three-person panel adopted the judge’s May 3, 2019 decision, which found “that the proposed mining operation will not pollute, impair, or destroy the air, water and other natural resources, or the public trust in those resources,” in compliance with Michigan’s Nonferrous Metallic Mining Statute.
Barry Hildred, president and chief executive officer of Aquila, said the judge’s decision followed an exhaustive review process and lengthy contested case hearing.
“Michigan’s environmental standards for mining are among the strictest in the world, and we look forward to continuing to demonstrate our commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainable resource development that benefits all stakeholders,” said Hildred, in a press release. “The Back Forty Mine will be a safe, disciplined operation that promotes and supports local community socio-economic development and is protective of the environment.”
The company is awaiting issuance by EGLE of its amended Mining Permit and Air Permit. Testimony related to the wetlands permit contested case was completed on October 25, 2019.
Aquila and various past joint venture partners, including Hudbay Minerals, have invested more than $90 million exploring and advancing Back Forty.
The Back Forty project area consists of subdued terrain and topography. The area, topography and climate are amenable to the conventional open pit mining operations proposed for the Project. No underground mining is planned at this stage although the potential for underground mining will be evaluated in the near future.
The mining operations will encompass a single large openpit that will be mined with conventional mining equipment in three pushback phases. The mining fleet will consist of major equipment used directly in the rock-moving operation including blasthole drills, hydraulic excavators, and 91 t haul trucks.
Photo credit: Aquila Resources