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The North Wind

The North Wind

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Mackayle Weedon
Mackayle Weedon
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My name is Makaylee! I am going to be a senior majoring in Social Media Design Management. I am apart of the Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority chapter on campus! I love thrifting, photography, skiing and going...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

NMU CARES — President Brock Tessman shares his feelings on the universitys new CARE Team. Photo Courtesy of Northern Michigan University
Letter to the Editor — Our New CARE Team
Brock TessmanFebruary 23, 2024

Approval expected for Kennecott mining

The approval of two permits for the proposed Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company nickel and copper mine is expected during the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) meeting on Thursday, Feb. 7, according to a recent letter sent from a DNR official to the mining company.

Kennecott has already been given approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Equality (MDEQ), but requires the DNR’s approval to go forward with the project.

Thursday’s decision comes over a month after DNR Director Rebecca Humphries postponed the approval of a surface-use lease and mining and reclamation plan for Kennecott’s Eagle Project. Humphries also requested information on site selection, water infiltration and ground settlement.

The three-page letter, dated Jan. 28, was sent from DNR Minerals and Land Management Section Manager Thomas Wellman to Jon Cherry, the project manager of the Eagle Project after a meeting between DNR officials and Kennecott.

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The letter can be found on the DNR Web site.

Opponents to the mine plan to file a lawsuit against the DNR if approvals are made. Currently, groups opposing the mine-including the National Wildlife Federation, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Huron Mountain Club and Yellow Dog Watershed Project-have filed suit against the MDEQ, contesting the decision to approve Kennecott’s permits was based on inadequate applications.

Doug Cornett, the director of Northwoods Wilderness Recovery, another group opposing the mine, said there are still other permits that Kennecott needs in order to break ground, including an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit for well water injection.

“I’m not aware of anything like that being required for mining,” Cornett said about the EPA permit. “They’re planning on treating the water from the mine through a treatment plant, and from there, the water would be injected into the acquifer.”

Groups such as Northwoods Wilderness Recovery have been urging opponents of the mine to write letters to Michigan government officials, as well as write Humphries directly.

“I think folks are prepared to do what’s needed to do to stop Kennecott from putting the shovels in the ground,” Cornett said.

Kennecott has also been looking at other Upper Peninsula locations for mineral deposits. Cornett said that if the Eagle Project were to be approved, it would be just the beginning of widespread mining in the area. The Houghton Mining Gazette reported that Kennecott intends to begin exploratory drilling in the spring at six locations within a 50-mile radius of the Eagle Project.

John Rebers is the faculty adviser to NMU’s Students Against Sulfide Mining and also serves as the chair of the local Sierra Club. Rebers said he felt the DNR land-use permit should not be approved and added that Kennecott owns the land immediately adjacent to the proposed mining site and could utilize that area instead.

According to Rebers, members of the Sierra Club have been in close communications with Humphries since the initial Kennecott meeting.

One group in favor of the Eagle Project is Citizens for Responsible Mining, a nonprofit organization with around 400 members. Tom Peterson, the organization’s director, said that since Kennecott passed the strict mining laws set by the MDEQ, the mine should go ahead as planned.

“When these laws came to be, everyone applauded them,” Peterson said. “With these laws, a company cannot put in a harmful mine. [Mine opponents] thought that this would stop all mining activity – the laws are very costly and excessive. And then,

Kennecott came in and said, ‘We can abide by these.'”

Peterson said he felt the DNR was caught off guard by the MDEQ’s approval of permits and that Humphries was unprepared, adding he was confident the mine would eventually break ground.

“These permits will be issued and life will go on,” Peterson said. “I have no doubts in my mind that they’re going to issue the permits. It’s just unfortunate that they didn’t get the job done in a timely fashion.”

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