Consolidated public hearing June 25, 2019

Meeting details

We have all of the permits necessary to construct and operate the Back Forty Mine. Since the issuance of our original mine permit in 2016, we have refined elements of the project design to be consistent with our feasibility study and previously issued wetland permit. The changes require us to amend both our mine and air permits and apply for a dam safety permit to ensure consistency across the permits.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is hosting a consolidated public hearing for the two permit amendments and one new permit. The hearing will be June 25, 2019, from 5:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. CDT at the Stephenson High School gymnasium, W526 Division Street, Stephenson, Michigan 49887.

The EGLE has published multiple resources concerning the permits, including:

Comments

Submit written comments using the information below.

Dam Permit
EGLE, Water Resource Division, Marquette District Office
1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI, 49855
Due by July 5, 2019

Air Permit to Install Modification 
Ms. Annette Switzer, Permit Section Manager, EGLE, AQD
P.O. Box 30260, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7760
Due July 23, 2019

Comments may also be submitted online. Click here, scroll to Aquila Resources Inc. - Permit to Install Application No. 205-15A, and click Submit Comment.

Mine Permit Amendment
Back Forty Project, EGLE/OGMD
1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855
E-mail to EGLE-Mining-Comments@michigan.gov with “Back Forty Mining Permit” as the subject.
Due July 23, 2019

If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us via email at info@backfortymine.com, call our hotline at 906-451-4192, or fill out our contact form here.


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.


SENATE BILLS MOVE FORWARD WITH AIM TO IMPROVE MDEQ RULE-MAKING

Sausalito, CA. June 12, 2018 -Senate Bills 652-654 proposed by the Michigan House Competitiveness Committee have been approved in the House by a narrow vote. The bill moves on to the Senate for a concurrence vote before it is sent to the governor for final approval.

At its core, the bill is aimed at improving administrative rulemaking by providing for increased transparency and accountability in the DEQ. The proposal is intended to address faulty processes in DEQ's regulation in the following ways:

  • SB 654 reestablishes an Environmental Science Advisory Board to hear scientific evidence and provide recommendation to the g
  • SB 652 would create an 11-member stakeholder committee to review, amend, deny and approve DEQ rule promulgation.
  • SB 653 would establish an appeals board that, upon request, would serve as a scientific permit review panel to hear an appeal by a permit applicant that has been denied by the DEQ.

Opposition for the bill is centered around concerns about SB 654's creation of an advisory body made up of members of companies with vested interests in DEQ decisions. Nonetheless, the bill has received wide support from various groups, including the Michigan Chambers which praises the "openness and accountability and transparency in DEQ rule-making" the bill will bring.

Source: JD Supra, LLC


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT MICHIGAN, WISCONSIN AND MINNESOTA

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.