NWF Vows to Challenge Michigan’s Approval of Dangerous Mine

Decision to permit mine contradicts advice by consultants who warned that the mine could collapse

01-15-2010 // Jordan Lubetkin

The National Wildlife Federation has vowed to challenge a decision by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to allow a controversial mine to proceed--even though the decision by the agency contradicts opinions by internal experts who have warned that the mine is unsafe and could result in a mine collapse.

“The mining plan is unsafe, and the DEQ’s decision to let it proceed is flawed, illegal and goes against the interests of the people of Michigan,” said Michelle Halley, an attorney representing the National Wildlife Federation. “We will challenge this decision to protect Michigan from this dangerous form of mining that has proven to be unsafe to people, communities and wildlife in other states.”

The permits allow a controversial mining project -- known as the Eagle Project -- to move forward that would fence off a documented indigenous sacred site and allow the discharge of pollutants to ground water and surface water. The mine would change the nature of the region from valuable wildlife habitat to an industrial park.

The Eagle Mine is the first mine in Michigan that aims to extract metals from sulfide ore bodies. This type of mining—known as hard rock mining in the West—often produces, as a byproduct, sulfuric acid that can prove deadly to rivers, streams, fish and wildlife for decades after closure of the mine. The Eagle Mine would be adjacent to the Salmon Trout River—one of the last mainland U.S. rivers used as spawning grounds by the Coaster Brook Trout.

“Any final decision on this mine and the fate of the Great Lakes is a long way off,” said Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, a local group opposing the mine. “We will fight this project, because it is unsafe and because the process has been perverted, for as long as we can.”

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