Spring 2019 Drilling Program Announcement

Aquila Resources, Inc. will be conducting drilling activities at the Back Forty Project beginning around May 22nd, 2019. This program is expected to run for approximately two months, although we may extend the work.

You may see the mobilization of a core drilling rig and support equipment near the mine site during that time. We plan to access the drilling locations by using existing woodland roads and trails to reduce surface disturbance. Our drilling program will take place seven days per week but only during day-time hours while we are drilling near the Menominee River. Drilling will occur 24/7 for all other drill holes. We will not be drilling on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July holidays. As with past programs, we will use engineering controls to minimize noise as much as possible. However, when drilling nears the Menominee River, the sound will carry to nearby residents. We apologize in advance for this disturbance.

We will follow all of the conditions and requirements in our exploration permit. Any topsoil disturbed from drill site preparation will be stockpiled and used to restore sites to the natural grade. Brush and branches will be cleaned up or spread to naturalize the site, and we will reseed all disturbed areas per DNR Unit Manager’s specifications.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us via email at info@backfortymine.wp2.adnetcms.com, call our hotline at 906-451-4192, or on our contact page.


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.


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.


STEPHENSON, Mich. July 2, 2018 –Recently, a series of bills that improve transparency and the DEQ rule-making process have become law. These bills enable fact and science, rather than personal opinion, dictate permit decisions.

Senate Bills 652-654 create three independent bodies with a diverse range of topic experts. The goal of the bills is to provide a further review of permitting processes and decisions and advise on issues safeguarding the environment. Senate Bill 839 focuses on the permit amendment process.

SB 652 reestablishes an Environmental Science Advisory Board to hear scientific evidence and provide a recommendation to the governor.

SB 653 creates an 11-member stakeholder committee to review, amend, deny and approve DEQ rule notifiction.

SB 654 establishes an appeals board that, upon request, would serve as a scientific permit review panel to hear an appeal by a permit application that has been denied by the DEQ.

SB 839 clarifies the process for addressing changes in a mining permit, and allows for punctual action on changes where minimal to no adverse environmental impacts would result.

You can read a legislative analysis for SB 652-654 by clicking here.

For more information on SB 839, including the process for the new law, click here.

If you have questions about this topic or anything else, please contact us.


STEPHENSON, Mich. June 19, 2018 – Last evening, the Menominee City Council defeated a resolution opposing the Back Forty Mine with a 3-6 vote. You'll see a story on the meeting in today's Eagle Herald.

During the meeting Council member Frank Pohlmann said that the group had asked Aquila questions, but the questions were either unanswered or discouraging. “We are dealing with a company that is not trustworthy,” Pohlmann said.

Back in March, we responded to the Council's questions, which you'll find below.

  • The economic impact to the local taxing district, county and state.
    • In a typical year, it is estimated that we will pay roughly $9 million to the federal government and $11 million will go to state and local governments.
    • Lake Township will receive approximately $5 million per year from the MI Severance Tax that is paid by Aquila Resources. The Severance Tax equates to 2.75% of the taxable metal value, which is subject to market conditions. What this means is that these numbers will go up or down depending on the average metal price during any given year.
    • Besides monetary benefits the project will provide several hundred construction jobs and more than 240 permanent, direct jobs with an annual payroll of approximately $9.5 million. Outside of mining we estimate the project will add another 100 indirect jobs in the community.
  • Provide the logistic plan for deliver to and from the Mine operations.
    • As our mining permit states, we will use existing roads.
  • Provide all the contributions to local organizations, nonprofit, schools, governments, etc.
    • We have been providing contributions and sponsorships to the community for more than a decade. Due to changes in ownership over the years we do not have a complete record of giving. However, examples of our contributions include the Menominee Waterfront Festival, Mid County Rescue Squad, UP Whitetails Association, Marinette Menominee Area Chamber, Menominee Business Development Corp, Menominee Legion Baseball, Menominee Downtown Business Association, Menominee County Fair, and Menominee County Library. In addition, we’re continuing our high school senior scholarship program, which over the years has awarded nearly $40,000 to graduating seniors in Menominee County.

Our goal is to be open and transparent in our development of the Back Forty Mine. We would like to work with community members and local government as we move forward with our project.

If you have questions about the Back Forty Mine, please contact us.


As the Back Forty Mine continues to develop, transparency and effective communication become more important. We recently published a newsletter as just one part of our effort to improve communication with the community now and in the future. It is also a suggestion we received from community members. Here’s a snapshot of where the project is today:
• The project is nearing the final stages of permitting. We look forward to regulatory approval of the wetlands permit by mid-2018.
• We’ve invested more than $90 million into the project and plan to spend more than $260 million to construct the mine.
• Drilling program results provide opportunity for future expansion.

We want to help improve the overall economic strength of the community and the economic quality of life for all residents resulting from our mining activities. Typically, the additional tax revenues generated by a mine provide significant benefits.

In a typical year, we’ll pay roughly $20 million in taxes to federal, state, and local governments. About $5 million of those tax dollars will be distributed to Lake Township as a result of Michigan’s Nonferrous Metallic Minerals Extraction Severance Tax. The Severance Tax will disperse just like general ad valorem property taxes. What does this mean for residents? It means that there will be more money for infrastructure such as broadband and road upgrades, or new technology in schools, a local fire hall, or recreational trails.

Below you’ll find an example of the allocation of Severance Taxes to the local community during an average year.

Back Forty Severance Tax Breakdown








* Calculated using metal prices of $1.20/lb zinc and $1,300/oz gold. These prices are subject to change depending on market conditions.

For more than 15 years we’ve been developing the Back Forty Mine. Recently, we cleared a permit hurdle and we expect to have all permits required to construct and operate the mine by mid-2018. Now, our team is focusing on engineering and planning for construction with the ultimate destination in mind – closure.

Back Forty Project Timeline

As members of the community, we pledge to respect all people and not to harm the environment in Menominee County. We’ve used various communication techniques over the years to capture your feedback and improve the way we do business.

Recently, we added a new set of Community Response tools to create even more opportunity for you to contact us. The tools will enhance and streamline the way community members notify us of feedback, concerns, and grievances about our operation. We are leveraging technology to ensure more timely responses to the community, and complement traditional communication and increase access to the Back Forty Team.

Below you’ll find two new ways to reach us. Both the phone number and online form allow you to contact us 24/7 at your convenience.

• Community Response Line (906) 451-4192
• Online Response Form backfortymine.com/contactus

Of course, you’re welcome to stop by our office during regular business hours.

If you have any questions or concerns about the information in this newsletter or any other topic, please let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.


Recently, Aquila’s Director of Social Performance and Engagement Chantae Lessard spoke with Tails & Trails Outdoors Executive Producer Tim Kobasic about the Back Forty Mine. Tim’s weekly program discusses events and topics of importance to outdoor enthusiast in the Upper Great Lakes region. In this episode, they talk a range of points about the mine as it relates to the area, including environmental protection, economic impact, aesthetics, advancement of mining practices, and more.

Listen to the two-part interview, which we hope is one of many to come.

Part OnePart Two


2018 Mining for Tomorrow Essay Competition

Calling all high school seniors!

Back Forty Mine is pleased to announce the 2018 Mining for Tomorrow Essay Competition.

This contest engages and challenges high school students to learn and write about mining related topics. Don’t miss your chance to compete for $10,000 in educational scholarships.

For complete details, click here.


STEPHENSON, Mich. Feb. 21, 2018 Dr. Tawni Hunt Ferrarini, a Professor of Economics, is seeking community participation in a series of focus groups that will be tasked with capturing their views and opinions on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of mining in and around Menominee County.

Dr. Ferrarini is looking for participation from people who fall between the two extreme views on mining and the community, and who come from different economic, political, social, and cultural backgrounds.

The goal is to capture data from local people, therefore participants are asked to attend a session in their immediate community.

The results from the focus groups will be analyzed by Dr. Ferrarini and an executive summary will be made available to the public.

The focus groups will take place between Saturday, March 10 and Friday, March 16, 2018. A complete list of dates, locations, and times can be found by clicking the registration button below. Registration is required to attend.