If you have questions that are not covered in this section, please email info@backfortymine.com or

call (906) 451-4192. We will do our best to reply to your inquiry.

general faqs

Aquila Resources is a publicly traded company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The Back Forty Mine is currently Aquila’s primary focus; however, Aquila also controls the Bend copper-gold and Reef gold projects in Wisconsin. The largest individual investor in Aquila, owning 17.45 percent of the company, is located in New York.

The Back Forty mineral deposit is a zinc and gold rich zone that was discovered in the early 2000’s. The deposit also hosts copper, silver, lead and trace amounts of other minerals. However, it’s history goes back billions of years.

The Back Forty deposit was formed roughly 1.8 billion years ago around a hot spring on the seafloor. In this type of environment, hot water with high concentrations of dissolved metals and sulfur vent onto the seabed and mix with frigid seawater. The change in temperature and chemistry cause the metallic elements including zinc, gold, and copper to bind with other minerals and settle onto the seabed as metal-bearing minerals. Over the course of time, this accumulation can turn into an economic mineral deposit. Several mineral deposits of this type have been found in our region; including Flambeau, Crandon, Bend, and Lynne.

Scientists first discovered these types of deposits in the 1970s while exploring the Galapagos Islands. The researchers learned that large numbers of organisms depend on the ecosystems formed around these hot springs in the ocean floor. Tubeworms, orange shrimp, eel-like fish, bacteria, and many other deep-sea creatures can be found among the springs.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has issued all of the permits necessary to mine in the state of Michigan, including the Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining permit, Michigan Air Use permit to install, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Permit, and the Wetlands permit.

The term “sulfide mining” is slang, not a scientific or industry term. It is a term used by mining opponents to elicit concern and to confuse people into thinking that a mining company is producing something other than the base minerals needed by society, like zinc, copper, lead and other important raw materials. These metals occur naturally as sulfide bearing mineral groups. When present in sufficient amounts they form a minable mineral deposit like the Back Forty deposit.  Most of these metals that we use in society today come from mineral deposits containing sulfide. There is no basis for describing a zinc, copper or any other mineral mine as a “sulfide mine.”

In contrast to other industries, mines cannot choose where to operate. Mining can only take place in areas where minerals are present in economically viable deposits. If a minable resource is discovered, we will work with the local community and within the mining regulations to access the ore body using modern mining practices. Today, we have the technology available and experience necessary to ensure that mining is safe and protective of the environment – meaning we can have both a strong economy and clean environment.

As of Q1 2018, more than $90 million to date has been spent on development of the Back Forty Mine. Construction of the mine is estimated to be greater than $260 million.

The fiduciary responsibility for reclamation falls to Aquila. We are committed and obligated by law to ensure that the costs of reclamation do not fall on the local community or taxpayers. Aquila is required to secure a bond based on the assessed value to close the mine and reclaim it properly. Assurance must be in place before construction can begin. Every three years, financial assurance will be reviewed to account for any changes in the total reclamation cost. The State of Michigan has full control of the bond until Aquila completes their fiduciary duty.

  • Zinc: Zinc is currently the fourth most widely consumed metal in the world after iron, aluminum, and copper. It is used in galvanizing steel, making luminous paints, fluorescent lights and x-ray screens.
  • Copper: Because of its excellent electrical conductivity, copper is most often used for electrical equipment such as wiring, motors, and telecommunication links.
  • Gold: Of all the minerals mined from the Earth, none is more useful than gold. While a majority is used for jewelry, it plays an important part in dentistry, electronics, computers, and aerospace.
  • Silver: Silver is a precious metal invaluable to batteries, dentistry, glass coatings, LED chips, medicine, photography, photovoltaic (or solar) energy, RFID chips (for tracking parcels or shipments worldwide), semiconductors, touch screens, water purification, and many other industrial uses.
  • Lead: The main uses for lead include ammunition, oxides in glass and ceramics, casting metals, and sheet lead.

community

Several archaeological studies were conducted on the project site, and the Back Forty Mine will not disturb any identified cultural resources. To ensure cultural resources are protected, we’ve created 30-meter buffer zones around established sites. Our permit also includes an Unanticipated Discovery Plan if cultural resources are encountered during operation. We are committed to respecting and protecting these significant cultural resources.

Proper reclamation of mine site is imperative. In the case of Back Forty, the pit will be filled in with waste rock from mining and all facilities on site will be removed. We will reclaim the site to a self-sustaining ecosystem that is compatible with existing uses on adjacent properties. The tailings facility will be covered with a multi-layer composite system and revegetated. Revegetation will include indigenous species and native grasses. Post closure monitoring will last for a period of up to 20 years following completion and approval of reclamation by the MDEQ.

There will be approximately 250 positions needed during the mine construction period which will last roughly two years. When the mine opens, the operational period will employ approximately 240 full time jobs.

Types of employment the operation will require include: mobile equipment operators such as excavators, haul trucks, bulldozers, graders, loaders, and water trucks; engineers in fields such as environmental, mining, metallurgical, geological; process operators and support personnel; water treatment operators; maintenance personnel skilled in mobile equipment maintenance, mechanical, piping, electrical, welding, and instrumentation; safety professionals; security professionals; assay lab chemists, technicians, and sample preparation personnel; and administration personnel including clerks, accountants, payroll, accounts payable, warehousing.

Compensation will be based on skill level, experience, training, and education. The average wage of workers will be approximately $55,000 to $65,000 per year including benefits. More highly skilled positions could expect compensation packages commensurate with industry standards for Michigan and surrounding region.

In a typical year, it is estimated that we will pay over $20 million in taxes to federal, state, and local government. Initial federal taxes are estimated at $9 million, and state and local taxes are estimated at $11.6 million. Michigan’s severance tax policy requires mining companies to pay 2.75% tax. Of this, the local community receives 65% and the State of Michigan receives the rest.The state’s portion will be directed to the Rural Development Fund (“RDF”).

The RDF was created to support projects that address rural infrastructure and development efforts within the agriculture, forestry, mining, oil and gas production, and tourism industries.

environment

There would not be an impact to the mine site. The floodplain was examined extensively as part of the MDEQ’s review of the environmental impact assessment (EIA). The analysis shows that the magnitude of a flood to negatively impact the mine would be a catastrophic event on the order of a 100,000-year surge. The likelihood of a 10,000-year flood over a 50 year period is less than 0.5%. The pit is not within the 100-year floodplain due to the high bluff on the east side of the river where the mine will operate. The west side of the river in Wisconsin features the more extensive floodplain and is ultimately where a surge in water would flow.

In the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) we submitted to the MDEQ for review, we addressed potential impacts on water. The analysis shows that the open pit will lower the water table in the area that is owned by Aquila. Groundwater levels in nearby domestic wells will not be impacted, nor will groundwater levels on the west side of the Menominee River. During operations, we will implement an extensive groundwater and surface water monitoring program to validate this assessment. In the unlikely event that monitoring shows that impacts could occur to domestic groundwater, we will have contingency plans ready to be implemented.

No. The term “acid rock drainage” (ARD) refers to the natural oxidation of sulfide minerals. Together with base minerals (e.g., zinc, nickel, copper) in the rock, sulfides react when exposed to air and water. This chemical reaction can occur naturally over time, like the hot springs in Yellowstone National Park or the cliffs along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Human activities, such as mining, accelerate the process.

Past mining practices lacked an understanding of how it was formed and its consequences on the environment. Today, we have a heightened awareness and knowledge of how ARD is created, plus regulations, guidelines, and management tools to prevent its effects.

The Back Forty Mine will use multiple proven methods to mitigate the impact of ARD. We’ll mix high-grade lime with our waste rock to neutralize any acidity. Tailings, waste rock, and ore blending areas will be lined. Also, water that comes into contact with mining activities (pit dewatering, rain, snow, mill process water) will be sent to an on-site water treatment plant for processing. Last but not least, we’ll monitor water conditions throughout the life of the mine and after closure to ensure the environment, including the Menominee River, remains protected.

All water that comes into contact with mining activities, including rainwater and snowmelt, will be collected and sent to one of two contact water basins. From the basins, the water will be sent to an on-site water treatment plant. The quality of treated water will meet all water quality standards applicable to the Menominee River. In fact, the water treatment plant that will be used at the Back Forty Mine in Michigan uses advanced technologies that far surpass most typical municipal water treatment plants.

The Tailings and Waste Rock Management Facility (TWRMF) and Waste Rock Storage Facility are designed to prevent metals from getting into the groundwater. The facilities will feature a multi-layered pad with a leak detection system and sump. All water on site is collected is either reused in the mining process or sent to the water treatment plant for processing prior to discharging to the river.

Dust suppression and collection will be used in areas of concern when processing the ores. We will rely on haul road maintenance, speed limits, and watering to control dust from traffic areas.

The MDEQ is responsible for enforcing the mine’s permits. MDEQ representatives may enter the mine at any time for the purpose of inspecting and investigating conditions relating to the operation of the mine and associated facilities.

operations

The entire project will cover approximately 580 acres in Lake Township. This is slightly smaller than the Menominee-Marinette Twin County Airport, which covers 600 acres. The open pit is approximately 83 acres.

It will take approximately two construction seasons to prepare the mine for operations.

The mining method that will be used is called ‘open-pit mining’, which is the process of mining a near surface deposit by means of drilling and blasting a pit using one or more horizontal benches. Once the rock is blasted, we separate the material with economic value (ore) from the material without economic value (waste rock). The ore will be sent on for further processing at the mill, while the waste rock will be sent to multi-layered storage facilities. When mining ceases the waste rock will be placed back into the pit, covered, and revegetated.

The gold ore will be processed indoors using conventional milling processes. A part of the process involves introducing cyanide in reaction vessels to separate the gold and silver from the other minerals, which is a method that has been used safely for over a hundred years.

The process water from this operation will be routed through a cyanide destruction step to degrade the cyanide to safe levels. So, both the water and waste from the gold extraction process will be stripped of cyanide before they exit the mill building on their way to the multi-layered tailings storage facility. Water from the tailings facility will route to the double-lined water retention basins before reuse in the mill process. Excess water from the ponds will be routed to the wastewater treatment plant for processing before discharge. The discharge of treated water is under management the Mine’s NPDES permit, and will meet all water quality standards applicable to the river.

Our team will provide a cyanide management plan addressing the handling and safety of cyanide chemicals as required by our mining permit. Also, we’ll follow the International Cyanide Management Code, which was developed by a multi-stakeholder committee under the guidance of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the then-International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME).

The slurry-like rock material at the end of the mill process that is not economical is called tailings. A multi-layered facility featuring a leak detection system and sump will be constructed on-site to store this material. Any water collected in this facility is sent to the water treatment plant for processing. When mining ceases the tailings facility will be dewatered, covered, and revegetated.

A barrier between the pit and the river made with clay and cement that runs from the surface down into bedrock where it is anchored. The slurry wall is approximately 50 yards from the river and is put in place as an extra layer of protection.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) develops and enforces safety and health rules for all of the nation’s mines. At a minimum, MSHA is required to inspect each surface mine twice a year. However, MSHA may enter the property at any time without notice.