IRON RIVER, MI
On November 6, Rio Tinto notified the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Ottawa National Forest (ONF) that it no longer wishes to pursue mineral exploration in a 395 acre parcel of the Ottawa National Forest in Iron County known as the “Bates Parcel.”
This is good news to concerned residents and landowners who have been monitoring Kennecott’s mineral interests within the Ottawa National Forest and Iron River area. Bob Rivera, concerned citizen says,
“Having grown up in the “dead zone” on the Iron River, a third of a mile from the Buck Mine, I am relieved that yet another site of potential pollution will not afflict our county which suffers from a higher than normal incidence of cancer. Both the Buck and Sherwood mine sites are known to contain uraninite, a uranium-like mineral, which leaches into the Iron River and, perhaps, the watershed.
In the case of the Buck Mine, which continues to leach sulfides and other contaminants after decades of remediation, the DEQ’s supposition that the source is tailing heaps and old settling ponds (which overflowed directly into the river in the day) is based on shaky, conjectural science. This stretch of river is riddled with abandoned mining works.
Unhappily, the State does not test for the presence of uranium-like minerals. The absence of rigorous testing and sampling standards and effective enforcement procedures should further alarm any community faced by the depredations of a corporation infamous for its disregard for human (and other) life. Anyone who tells you “Michigan has the strongest mining laws in the world!” is either duped or lying to you. Rio Tinto’s abandonment of exploration at the Perch Lake site, while a small success for our movement, will have to be repeated many times by aroused and informed citizens if we are to preserve a viable environment.”