June 2020 Mining Update | Back Forty Project, Badger Minerals & Wolf River

Jun 18, 2020 | Local Groups, Mining

Mining activities have not slowed down in the last few months. Badger Minerals has begun exploratory drilling in Oneida County and the Menominee River has been named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers for the second time.

There are actions you can take to oppose the mining proposals that threaten our waters.

Back Forty Project Update

Wisconsin’s mighty Menominee River was recently listed for a SECOND time to the America’s Most Endangered Rivers list. Thanks to the Coalition to Save the Menominee River for their work to get this important designation for the Menominee River. American Rivers has recognized that the threats to the Menominee River are far from over and that there is still a chance to stop this project.

You can take action today to protect the Menominee River by submitting the action alert on American Rivers’ webpage that asks you to tell Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to deny Aquila Resources, Inc.’s permit to develop the Back Forty project.

Take Action Now to protect the Menominee River.

Aquila Resources withdrew their Dam Safety Permit at the end of 2019 and has not yet submitted a new permit. There are a lot of concerns about the design of the dam and the risks to our waters if the dam fails.

After the catastrophic failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams in Michigan this spring, the Coalition to Save the Menominee River sent a letter to EGLE, “…to express our concerns about the permitting process for the Back Forty tailings dam in light of the unprecedented flooding after two dams collapsed in Michigan following record rainfall.”

Their request to EGLE is, “In light of the recent dam failures and the well-documented threat of upstream dam failure for the proposed Back Forty tailings dam in an area of heavy rainfall, we are asking EGLE to exercise your authority to prohibit the upstream dam construction design for the proposed Back Forty tailings dam. If EGLE fails to prohibit a dam design that has already been banned in Brazil, Chile and Ecuador as an inherently risky technology, the communities downstream from the Back Forty’s tailings dam can only interpret this decision as placing Aquila’s corporate profits over public health, safety and clean drinking water.”

The Coalition’s legal challenge to Aquila Resources wetland permit is still waiting for a decision. 

Stay updated on the Back Forty project and support the Coalition’s efforts with a donation by going to their website: Coalition to Save the Menominee River

Badger Minerals Threatens the Wolf River

The Oneida County Planning and Development committee approved Badger Minerals exploratory license on April 22nd. (Yes, that happened on Earth Day.)

Many Oneida County residents and concerned citizens sent in comments to remind the committee of the great pollution risks that come from sulfide mining.

Badger Minerals has also received all of their approvals for exploratory drilling from the DNR. They began drilling the first week of June.

Tribal nations, nonprofit organizations and local residents have come together to protect the Wolf River from this threat. They are holding a 4-part virtual panel series that will feature tribal historians, tribal allies, and environmental and political experts connected to the Wolf and Menominee Rivers.

Panelists will discuss their experiences in cultural and environmental activism, as well as their knowledge of the mining process, followed by a brief Q&A.

All events in the series will take place online from 6:30-7:30pm.

Dates and topics are:

  • Tribal Histories, June 23
  • Tribal Allies, July 7th
  • Mining & the Environment, July 21
  • Regulatory Mining Process, August 4th

Learn more about the panel series.

Visit the Wolf River Action Committee website:


We will continue to share information on the Back Forty Project, and as the mining exploration in Oneida County unfolds.

For mining-related questions, please contact me, Allison Werner, by email at [email protected].