The root of major dissent to the metallic sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains can be traced to one source – Acid Mine Drainage. This unavoidable and destructive by-product of the sulfide mining process has been deemed one of the most serious threats to water quality by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Mining into sulfide ores brings this volatile ore to the surface, crushing it and exposing it to water and oxygen, a dangerous combination that leads to a substance closely associated with battery acid. This acid makes it way through every crack and crevice and ultimately pollutes thousands of miles of rivers and streams every year. It contaminates drinking water and threatens animal and plant species.
In a Wisconsin Engineer story printed in 1997, author Jennifer Schultz included the following statement: “There are no ideal metallic mineral mining sites which can be pointed to as the model approach in preventing acidic drainage industry-wide.” Recognizing the inevitable threat of sulfide mining as fact, the Wisconsin legislature issued a provisional ban on sulfide mining in the state which still stands today.
Sulfide mines differ greatly from the iron mines that now operate in the Upper Peninsula. It is a widely known fact that all sulfide mines produce acid mine drainage, Governor Granholm must deny the permit application and protect the state from the predictable destruction of acid mine drainage and the slippery slope that comes from allowing even one such mine in our water-rich state.
What is acid mine drainage? from the US EPA (pdf)
More Facts of Metallic Sulfide Mining from Save the Wild UP.