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DNR holds meeting on Aquila Resources’ lease application process for Back Forty Mine

EGLE explains the status of the company’s permits, while people voice their opposition towards the project
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 7:39 PM EST
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MENOMINEE, Mich. (WLUC) - Aquila Resources has been working to start the Back Forty Mine near the Menominee River for years now.

On Tuesday, the DNR’s Minerals Management Section held an informational meeting about Aquila’s request to lease mineral rights in Holmes and Lake Townships. The leases Aquila currently holds are close to expiring.

“{Aquila Resources} have publicly disclosed that over 700 drill holes have been drilled to advance the Back Forty Project since its initial discovery,” said MMS Manager Kirk Lapham. “Over 80% of the completed test wells on record for the Back Forty Project have been reported to be plugged.”

An application to lease minerals from the state is one of the initial steps for exploration. If approved by the DNR, it grants the company the exclusive right to explore for the presence of metallic minerals in specific areas.

A lease alone does not grant the company a right to a mine. A mine requires permits and plan reviews.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) explained the status of Aquila’s permits. The Nonferrous Metallic Mining Permit was surrendered in May. The National Pollution Elimination Discharge System Permit is under review. The Permit to Install was voided, and the Wetlands Permit was denied.

“An administrative law judge, earlier this year, issued a decision denying the prior issuance of this permit,” said Melanie Humphrey, an EGLE Area Geologist. “The decision has not been appealed, and therefore still stands.”

Aquila says it is studying an approach “that incorporates the open pit and underground mine plans”. The company says it is still working to secure remaining permits required to start construction and operations at Back Forty.

Members of the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River shared their continued opposition to the project with the DNR today.

“To put a metallic sulfide mine anywhere near the Menominee River is suicide for us all and for generations to come,” said coalition supporter Mary Hansen

“Aquila’s intention is to move their interest to gold resources with offices in Denver, Colorado,” said the coalition’s president, Dale Burie. “Please don’t allow the state of Michigan to be part of this gigantic Ponzi scheme.”

The public can comment on the minerals lease application until the end of the month.

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