Environment Picture

Proposed nickel mine clears its first hurdle

A proposed Upper Peninsula nickel mine that would create dangerous toxic acid and endanger a pristine ecosystem got preliminary approval in January from Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s administration.

Public comment on the approval will be accepted until April 5 and public hearings held in Marquette on March 6, 7 and 8.

Kennecott Minerals Co. plans to drill for more than $1 billion worth of nickel and a host of other metals below the headwaters of the Salmon-Trout and Yellow Dog rivers 25 miles northwest of Marquette.

MEC and its allies—who helped draft mining laws designed to protect the state’s resources from such risky extractions—were outraged with the Jan. 9 approval.

“This sets the bar for what may well be a rush to extract minerals from across the Upper Peninsula, so it’s not just another permit application,” said Andy Buchsbaum of the National Wildlife Federation. “We’re appalled that Gov. Granholm’s people appear—at least preliminarily—unwilling to set that bar at a level which protects water resources and the tourism-related jobs in the U.P.”

The mining would extract waste rock from a sulfide formation, generating battery-acid strength liquids full of toxic heavy metals. The potential for spills, accidents and leaks is too great to warrant permit approval, according to a coalition of environmental groups.

Comments may be sent to:
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Geological Survey
525 W. Allegan
PO Box 30256
Lansing MI 48909-7756

Alternatively, forward e-mail comments to Steven E. Wilson, wilsonse@michigan.gov.
-Hugh McDiarmid Jr., Michigan Environmental Council
RELATED TOPICS: land use, water protection
© Copyright Michigan Environmental Council, All rights reserved