UPDATE - MINING AND COMMUNITY FOCUS GROUPS

2018 Executive Summary Report
Modern Mining and the Community: The Back Forty Mine

Dr. Tawni Hunt Ferrarini, a Professor of Economics, has published her findings from a series of focus groups that she hosted in 2018. The Mining and Community Focus Groups captured community members’ perspectives and opinions on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of mining in and around Menominee County.

Dr. Ferrarini spoke with people from both ends of the mining debate, and who come from different economic, political, social, and cultural backgrounds.

To read the Executive Summary Report, go to Dr. Ferrarini’s website.

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Back Forty Mine Project Update

Advancing the Back Forty Mine

Greetings from Michael Welch, COO

As I approach my first anniversary with Aquila Resources and my time in Menominee County, I can’t help but reflect on the many valuable conversations and engagements that have taken place. There is a desire to grow the economy in the community and the region. From past travels and experiences, I truly understand that this should not come at a cost to the community, the environment, and it certainly should not compromise our commitment to zero harm.

We have secured the permits necessary to construct and operate the mine. As we move through the permit alignment process and initiate pre-construction activities, I encourage you to ask questions about issues you feel have not been satisfactorily addressed. I would also encourage you to ask your community leaders what more the presence of the operations can do to help build capacity and alternative growth opportunities within the community.

On that note, I am pleased to announce two community partnering initiatives: one with the Menominee Conservation District to bring soils and groundwater along with geology and mining education into local classrooms, and another with Menominee & Marinette Area Community Foundation to establish Children’s Savings Accounts with students entering kindergarten in Menominee County. The M&M Area Community Foundation has already grown this initiative to include other financial institutions and businesses which will enable the program to extend to Marinette County.

Our team’s commitment and dedication are integral to Back Forty’s success. I appreciate all their efforts and contributions, and I look forward to growing the team in the coming years.

From all of us at the Back Forty Mine, have a Happy New Year.

Permitting News

In November, we filed a mine permit amendment application with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Since the issuance of our original permit, we have refined elements of the design of Back Forty to align with the Feasibility Study and issued wetlands permit.

Examples of the revisions in the amendment application include a reduction in wetland impact, improved dust management, increased water storage capacity, and reduced footprint of tailings facilities post-closure. We continuously look for opportunities to minimize the potential impacts of our operations on the environment and community.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is holding a public meeting regarding the Back Forty Mine Permit Amendment Application on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. The meeting will take place from 6:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. CST at Stephenson High School. The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public that the DEQ has received an amendment application and how to access documents, provide information about the review process, and allow community members to provide comment on the amendment. 

MDEQ will also accept written comments regarding the amendment application by mail or e-mail from the day of the meeting until 5:00 P.M. EST, Wednesday, February 6, 2019. Mail your comments to Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment, MDEQ-OGMD, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855. E-mail your comments to the designated MDEQ mailbox at DEQ- Mining-Comments@michigan.gov, including "Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment" as the subject. The MDEQ will only consider comments that pertain to the Mining Permit Amendment Application prior to making a final decision. For additional information, contact Melanie Humphrey, MDEQ, Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, 906-250-7564, or e-mail humphreym@michigan.gov.

For more information about the meeting and amendment documents, click here.

Legal Update

On December 19, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin dismissed the Menominee Indian Tribe’s federal lawsuit challenging EPA and U.S. Army Corps’ failure to exercise jurisdiction over Aquila’s wetland permit for the Back Forty Mine. The Court dismissed the two claims in the Tribe’s original complaint and rejected the Tribe’s motion to file an amended complaint that proposed two additional claims because the amendments would be pointless. The Court held that the Tribe could not challenge the federal government’s refusal to exercise jurisdiction over the state wetland permit under the Administrative Procedures Act or the Clean Water Act.

In November, the Coalition to Save the Menominee River filed a complaint in federal court in Wisconsin. The Coalition’s claims are basically the same as those the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin recently dismissed.

There are two separate contested case hearings on the DEQ’s approval of the Back Forty mine and wetland permits.

We are confident in our position and expect a favorable resolution in all current legal proceedings.

In the Community

Carney Schools Fire Prevention

Back Forty employees and Nadeau Township Volunteer Fire Department members John Dziedzic (left) and Noah Poupore (right) visit Carney-Nadeau School for Fire Prevention Week. The volunteer firemen spoke to classes from PreK to fifth grade about essential steps to reduce the likelihood of having a fire and how to escape safely in the event of one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We send out email updates on a regular basis to keep the community on top of our progress.

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ABOUT BACK FORTY MINE

Back Forty Mine is Aquila Resources’ 100% owned permitting stage zinc- and gold-rich mine located in Menominee County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Dan Blondeau
Manager, Communications
Phone (434) 906-0594
dblondeau@aquilaresources.com


Federal court rejects challenge to Back Forty's wetland permit

Federal court rejects Menominee Tribe’s challenge to Back Forty's wetland permit

On December 19, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin dismissed the Menominee Indian Tribe’s federal lawsuit challenging EPA and U.S. Army Corps’ failure to exercise jurisdiction over Aquila’s wetland permit for the Back Forty Mine. The Court dismissed the two claims in the Tribe’s original complaint and rejected the Tribe’s motion to file an amended complaint that proposed two additional claims because the amendments would be pointless.

The Court held that the Tribe could not challenge the federal government’s refusal to exercise jurisdiction over the state wetland permit under the Administrative Procedures Act or the Clean Water Act.

Click here for Aquila's original press release.


DEQ to host public meeting concerning permit amendment

Meeting scheduled for January 9, 2019

The DEQ issued our original mine permit in 2016. Since that time, we've refined elements of the mine design to be consistent with our feasibility study and previously issued wetland permit. Examples of the revisions in the amendment application include a reduction in wetland impact, improved dust management, increased water storage capacity, and reduced footprint of tailings facilities post-closure. We continuously look for opportunities to minimize the potential impacts of our operations on the environment and community.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is holding a public meeting regarding the Back Forty Mine Permit Amendment Application on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. The meeting will take place from 6:00 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. CST at Stephenson High School. The purpose of the meeting is to inform the public that the DEQ has received an amendment application and how to access documents, provide information about the review process, and allow community members to provide comment on the amendment. 

MDEQ will also accept written comments regarding the amendment application by mail or e-mail from the day of the meeting until 5:00 P.M. EST, Wednesday, February 6, 2019. Mail your comments to Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment, MDEQ-OGMD, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855. E-mail your comments to the designated MDEQ mailbox at DEQ- Mining-Comments@michigan.gov, including "Back Forty Mining Permit Amendment" as the subject. The MDEQ will only consider comments that pertain to the Mining Permit Amendment Application prior to making a final decision. For additional information, contact Melanie Humphrey, MDEQ, Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, 906-250-7564, or e-mail humphreym@michigan.gov.

For more information about the meeting and amendment documents, click here .


Can mining and tourism coexist?

Can mining and tourism coexist?

Both industries continue to flourish and provide jobs in the U.P.

Yes, mining and tourism can coexist.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) tracks tourism economic impact by region and county. In both Marquette and Menominee counties, visitor spending increased each year between 2011-2017. This period spans the permitting, construction, and operation of Eagle Mine, which is operating today.

Mining can even increase visitor spend. Eagle Mine became a tourist destination, hosting visitors from across the state and country to tour both the mine and the mill facilities. Other mine facilities and historical sites also attract tourists each year.

For more information, visit the following websites:


Mine Permit Amendment Submitted

Permit amendment to reduce impacts on environment and community.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued our original mine permit in 2016. Since that time, we've refined elements of the mine design, and we have identified measures to reduce the overall impact of the site. DEQ requires mining companies to apply for an amendment when a proposal is made to make changes to operations (e.g., mining, reclamation). The amendment is consistent with the feasibility study and the wetland permit that DEQ issued earlier this year. We will be sharing more information about the amendment shortly.

In the meantime, you'll find a copy of the amendment at the library in Stephenson or online on the DEQ's website. Go to ftp://ftp.deq.state.mi.us/geowebface and click Mining, Back Forty Mine, and you'll see the amendment files at the bottom. The files are very large due to the amount of detail.


Oversight of Mining in Michigan

Oversight of mining in Michigan

Permitting and administration of nonferrous metallic mineral projects

The topic of local regulation has led to a misunderstanding about what role local government plays in mining operations. In Michigan, the Legislature provides the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), responsibility for issuing and enforcing mining permits under the authority of state’s Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining regulations, also known as Part 632. Part 632 broadly prohibits any attempt by local government to regulate or control mining activities. In other words, local regulations cannot preempt or override Part 632.

The confusion over regulation arises because local governments often establish zoning and ordinance rules for their community. However, the law says explicitly that "a local unit of government shall not regulate or control mining or reclamation activities that are subject to this part, including construction, operation, closure, postclosure monitoring, reclamation, and remediation activities, and does not have jurisdiction concerning the issuance of permits for those activities." There is an exception for ordinances that do not duplicate, contradict, or conflict with Part 632. For example, local governments may enact regulations to enforce hours of operation and routes used by vehicles.

In the case of Back Forty Mine, the DEQ is responsible for permitting and oversight of mining activities. Part 632 was created to ensure that proper mining and reclamation methods are carried out to protect the citizens and the environment. A local unit of government cannot require a special land use permit nor enforce a local mining ordinance of a mine operator. For an overview of Part 632, click here.

We will comply with all permit requirements, while ensuring to construct, operate, and close the Back Forty Mine in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. We are always willing to talk with local government and community members about our operation and its significance to the region.


Ensuring Air Quality

Ensuring Air Quality

Protecting People and the Environment

We will protect human health and the environment by following our permits, which include mining, air, water, and wetland.

The Air Quality Division of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) ensures that the air we share remains clean by regulating sources of air contaminants. The goal of the agency is to mitigate the adverse impact on human health and the environment from emission sources. Issuance of Back Forty's air permit by the MDEQ came in December 2016.

At our facility, we'll use dust suppression and collection systems in areas of concern when mining and processing ore. Examples include enclosed conveyors, collection filters, water sprays, covered stockpiles, and dampening haul roads to control dust in traffic areas.

Once in operation, inspectors from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will check air quality standards at facilities to ensure worker safety. We'll also conduct air quality sampling on site.


Michigan's Nonferrous Metallic Mining Regulations

Michigan's Part 632

Michigan’s nonferrous metallic mining regulations (Part 632) guide the construction, operation, closure, and post-closure of mining operations. The law also guides monitoring, reclamation, and remediation of nonferrous metallic mineral mines in the state of Michigan. Before Part 632 passed in 2004, Michigan’s then-governor formed a workgroup to discuss increased ecological protection if mining took place. The group comprised of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, environmental groups, industry, the Michigan DNR, Michigan DEQ, and Eagle Mine (formerly Rio Tinto). Today, Part 632 is considered one of the most stringent mining laws in the United States. Several states in the Midwest have studied Michigan’s law when updating their own rules. The link below will take you to an overview of Part 632. The mining law is a great document to review if you have interest concerning mining in your community.

Overview of Part 632


RETHINK MINING

There are two ways to look at mining. The first is to see it as an old and declining industry that has caused historical environmental concerns. The second way to see it as an industry that continues to evolve and fuel the technological advances that define medicine, communication, manufacturing, and our way of life.

Mining worldwide hasn’t always effectively managed environmental impacts. Understandably, this causes distress for some concerning mining in their community. Today’s techniques and regulations are meant to address these issues. In just the past few decades water treatment standards, materials management, and safety requirements have changed dramatically. Mining is no longer the labor-intensive, dirty industry of the past. Programs that drive innovation, technology advancement and efficiency are the foundation of modern mining.

At the Back Forty Mine, we are developing a mining operation that protects and minimizes impacts to our environment, promotes sustainable benefit for communities and stakeholders, and inspires commitment to a safe, injury-free workplace for all workers, every day.

If you have questions about our project, please contact our Community Response Line at (906) 451-4192, email info@backfortymine.com, or visit us online.

Go to the American Exploration and Mining Association's website for more information on modern mining.

Rethink Mining Back Forty Mine