STEPHENSON, Mich. Jan. 29, 2018 – Flooding will not impact the Back Forty Mine. The mine is located on a small bluff above the Menominee River, outside of the 100-year floodplain. A 100-year flood is an event that has the probability of occurring once in 100 years. If such an event were to happen, studies suggest the river would reach roughly 10 feet below the top of the bluff. Also, if we experience an extreme storm event, an emergency spillway will channel water from site to the contact water basins and the open pit. The basins alone can hold 161 million gallons of water.

Since water takes the path of least resistance, it would likely spread out into Wisconsin and downriver. The MDEQ has provided a FAQ regarding the Menominee River Floodplain and the Back Forty Mine. You can access the entire FAQ on the MDEQ website.

MDEQ Floodplain Map
Source: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/wrd-back-forty-floodplain-faq_611575_7.pdf















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STEPHENSON, Mich. Jan. 23, 2017 – Aquila Resources appreciates the community’s interest and feedback on our permitting efforts, as well as the hard work undertaken by our team on the wetland application. We’re confident the application minimizes total wetland impact and protects the environment.

It’s important to note that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) has delegated permitting authority to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“MDEQ”). Michigan has maintained this designation by administering laws and regulations that remain consistent with the Clean Water Act (CWA). The state has been conducting a thorough review of the wetland permit application for more than two years, during which time the EPA has been involved and providing input. We look forward to regulatory approval of the application during the first half of 2018. This is the fourth and final permit required to build and operate the Back Forty Mine.


STEPHENSON, Mich. Jan. 8, 2018 –Aquila Resources will carry out and pay for all reclamation activities during operations and following mine closure as required by law. As a protective measure for the community, if for some unforeseen reason this cannot happen, the State of Michigan requires mining companies to provide adequate financial assurance.

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 have the mine closed and reclaimed by a third party. 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.

If you have a question, please email info@backfortymine.wp2.adnetcms.com.

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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STEPHENSON, Mich. Dec. 19, 2017 – This week we came across three questions that we felt needed clarification. The questions span Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

1. Does the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (“MDEQ”) have the authority to make wetlands permit decisions?

Yes. The EPA approved Michigan’s request for delegation of federal wetlands permits in the early 1980s. To maintain this authority, Michigan’s laws and regulations must remain consistent with the Clean Water Act (CWA). Even though MDEQ has this authority, they will gather input from various regulatory agencies, including from the EPA, regarding Aquila's wetland permit application for the Back Forty Mine.

2. Did Aquila Resources open offices in Wisconsin? 

No. The company may conduct exploration actives in Marathon and Taylor counties in late 2018. Prior to any activity taking place, Aquila will work with the State of Wisconsin and local officials.

3. Is Aquila developing three open-pit mines in Minnesota?

No. Aquila is not developing three open-pit mines in Minnesota.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 906-753-9602, email us, or send us a message through our website.



STEPHENSON, Mich. Dec. 14, 2017 – Recently, we heard a claim that Canada has outlawed 'sulfide' mining. To make a long story short, this claim is false.

Our friends to the north did not outlaw the mining of sulfide-bearing ore bodies. In fact, we asked Justyna Laurie-Lean, Vice President Environment and Regulatory Affairs for the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), this very question. “Much of Canadian deposits and host rock have sulfides, so such a ban would be ludicrous,” Laurie-Jean replied in an email. In addition, MAC’s 2017 Guide to the Management of Tailings Facilities talks to the management of sulfide tailings.

Silvestri Matteo

There is no basis for describing a zinc, copper or any other mineral mine as a “sulfide mine.” 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. They want people to think that a mining company is producing something other than the minerals needed by society, like zinc, copper, lead and other important raw materials. These metals occur naturally as sulfide-bearing mineral groups.

The London Metal Exchange (LME) is world's largest commodities exchange for metals. You will not find 'sulfides' on the list of metals being traded on the exchange. What you will find on the exchange are metals like those that we will mine at Back Forty: zinc, gold, copper, silver and lead.

So, what about the sulfides? The minerals that make up the sulfides are composed of metal cations (+2 charge) combined with sulfur(S). For example, chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) is the most abundant type of copper-bearing ore. Sulfide bearing tailings and waste rock will be stored on the Tailings and Waste Rock Management Facility (TWRMF) and Waste Rock Storage Facility. These facilities are designed to prevent metals from getting into the groundwater. They will feature multi-layered pads with a leak detection systems and sumps. All water on site, including from these sumps, is collected and either reused in the mining process or sent to the water treatment plant for processing prior to discharging to the river.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 906-753-9602, email us, or send us a message through our website.




STEPHENSON, Mich. Dec. 8, 2017 – The MDEQ has deemed Aquila's wetland/stream/floodplain permit application for the Back Forty Mine administratively complete and the regulatory technical review process can now move to the next stage. The updated application provides additional information to assist the MDEQ in its evaluation of wetland impacts associated with the mine. For example, the application accounts for new land acquired by Aquila and changes to the project footprint that minimize the potential for any off-site impacts to wetlands.

As requested by Aquila, a public hearing has been granted and will take place at the Stephenson High School on January 23, 2018 from 6 PM to 10 PM. The MDEQ review process, along with the public hearing provides the community with opportunities to comment on the permit application. In addition, the MDEQ will gather input from various regulatory agencies, including from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”).

We encourage supporters of the mine to add a comment on the MDEQ website in support of the permit application. Documents related to the permit and a comment form can be found on the MDEQ website.

The original announcement from Aquila can be read here.


STEPHENSON, Mich. Sept. 22, 2017 – Misinformation causes needless worry and concern for those unfamiliar with today's advanced mining practices. Aquila’s Director of Social Performance and Engagement Chantae Lessard spoke with Media Trackers regarding such information and the company's regret for not talking sooner with the community. "Unfortunately I think a lot of people don’t understand mining technology today, they are looking at mines that started 50-75 years ago, and today the technology has really changed," Lessard says.

Our future is deeply depending on mining and it becomes more evident as the years continue. Electronics, medical devices, pollution control systems, electric cars and renewable energy technology all count on the raw materials like those we'll produce at Back Forty Mine.

The historical legacy of mining offers numerous examples of what not to do. Like any industry, we've learned over the years how to do things better, smarter and with less impact on the environment. Aquila Resources and Back Forty Mine are committed to meeting the environmental requirements set forth in our permits and will comply with with all applicable regulations. "We believe we can have both a strong economy and clean environment with modern mining practices, " Lessard says.

The full interview with Chantae Lessard can be found on Media Trackers website.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 906-753-9602, email us, or send us a message through our website.