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-, 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

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.







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


Chantae Lessard
Director, Social Performance and Engagement
Phone (906) 250-4274