Back Forty Mine Comments

Nov 3, 2016 | Citizen Advocacy, Mining, Water Policy

You have heard us talking a lot about the Back Forty mine project on the Menominee River.  This week we submitted our comments to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to formally convey our objection to the mine.

While the mine isn’t actually in Wisconsin, if approved, it will without question impact the Menominee River – the native homeland of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, and a river of ecological importance to Wisconsin’s population of lake sturgeon (approximately half of adult sturgeon in Lake Michigan spawn in the Menominee). Though we’ve expressed our concerns – and that of others – about this mine numerous times before, the Back Forty hasn’t attracted much attention here in Wisconsin, but it should.

Why? Because the proposed mine is literally on the banks of the Menominee River. Open-pit sulfide mines (so called because metals like copper and nickel are associated with sulfide ores; which, when dug up, react with air and water to form sulfuric acid) like the Back Forty are notorious for polluting waterways. Toxic pollution from sulfide mine waste destroys habitat, kills aquatic life, and affects human health. And the damage can continue, decades and decades after a mine has been closed.

The pollution from this mine will have detrimental effects on the lake sturgeon population that we are working to protect by building a way for them to pass around two dams on the Menominee River. Click here to learn more about our fish passage project.

The Back Forty site also happens to be the place of origin for the Menominee Tribe. “This is our homeland – our historic homeland,” says Doug Cox of the Tribe. “Mounds and actual burial sites within the mine footprint will be impacted. We want the company [Aquila Resources] to pay attention to these concerns, and we feel they aren’t getting proper attention.”