Save the Wild U.P. is a grassroots environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of the Upper Peninsula’s unique cultural and natural resources.
Anti-Corruption Campaign Gaining Momentum
Our call for a federal corruption investigation of the ties between state mining regulators and industry executives has been met with overwhelming support nationwide. Concerned citizens in over 40 states have signed our petition, and the momentum keeps growing. Ever since the Environmental Protection Agency delegated its regulatory authority to the State of Michigan, we have state employees performing federal duties — but without any meaningful conflict of interest laws. A civil suit was filed this summer demanding the release of financial information of the Northern Michigan Geologic Repository Association, a nonprofit created by head state mining regulators and mining industry executives. The suit was dismissed due to lack of precedent pertaining to a privately-funded public body, making it even more important that a corruption investigation take place. Add your name to our petition at savethewildup.org today!
Rio Tinto sells Eagle Mine to Lundin Mining Co.
This July, multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto sold the Eagle Mine near Big Bay to Canadian company Lundin Mining for $325 million. Lundin, a “junior” mining company, with holdings in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Europe, has never mined in the United States, which raises concerns about its familiarity with our regulatory environment and financial assurances. Citizens are concerned that Lundin may leave taxpayers footing the bill for their corporate pollution. Meanwhile, Lundin is speeding up construction at the site with the new goal of beginning production by fall 2014, more than 5 years later than Rio Tinto’s previously announced estimates. Construction at the Lundin Humbolt Mill 30 miles west of Marquette is ramping up. Two miles of the recreational Iron Ore Heritage Trail will be converted back to rail to transport sulfide ore. Following processing, mine waste tailings will be sunk to the bottom of a nearby mine pit abandoned from previous iron ore mining operations. Last month independent grassroots activists rapidly organized flash protests in response to visiting Lundin investors, making the front page and nightly news, and highlighting the diverse risks of this sulfide mining venture. Bravo!
Haul Route, Road Upgrades for Lundin Eagle Mine
The Marquette County Road Commission has been holding regular “special meetings” to rapidly approve the construction of road upgrades of CR 550 to Big Bay, and a new, straightened, 55 mph highway from CR 550 to the Eagle Mine gate. Landowners are facing eminent domain of their land for this highway, although it is illegal in Michigan to use eminent domain for corporate benefit. No environmental impact assessment has been completed; nor has the Marquette County Road Commission responded to the dozens of questions from concerned citizens regarding this new highway. Additionally, the City of Marquette sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) requesting that the Eagle Mine truck request was denied, and as of this writing, the city is considering ordinances to better regulate the ore trucks that the mine is planning on routing through the city. Letters to the editor are greatly encouraged.
New Water Discharge Permit at Eagle Mine — Public Hearings Soon! Get ready — the MDEQ is drafting a new water discharge permit for the Eagle Mine. So far the draft permit we’ve seen is weaker than before so we’ll need your help to strengthen the regulations at the Eagle Mine site. The MDEQ continues to work to have ultimate “discretion” written into the permits governing mining operations rather than clearly outlining steps it would take to fix or stop water discharge violations. Check out savethewildup.org for updates and news of the public hearings and comment periods — we’ll be educating and organizing for the strongest permits possible to protect our communities from corporate pollution — including uranium, vanadium, and other toxic heavy metals.
Mineral Exploration Around the Upper Peninsula
Rio Tinto may have sold the Eagle Mine, but the London-based company continues to hold mineral rights near the Eagle Mine site. Lundin Mining flew a helicopter geared with geophysical equipment this summer to continue mineral exploration in the area, as did Rio Tinto last fall in Duncan and Laird Townships in northern Iron and southern Houghton counties. As of July, 2012, Canadian mining company HudBay suspended its mineral exploration work with Aquila Resources Inc. near the Menominee River on the southern Michigan-Wisconsin border, though Aquila continues to hold mineral rights in the area. The Front 40, the key grassroots group in the area, continues to hold meetings and assist with local water sampling of the nearby Menominee River — and hosted SWUP Executive Director Alexandra to speak on U.P. mining in Wisconsin this summer. See mineral exploration happening in your area? Call (906) 662-9987 or write email@example.com to keep us updated.
New Air Permit Approved for Eagle Mine — Met By Lawsuit
Earlier this year, concerned citizens organized in response to a proposed weakened air permit at the Eagle Mine. The new permit allowed for total removal of all air filtration leaving the mine vent, despite earlier company promises. In response to concerns that unfiltered mine exhaust would be emitted onto the Yellow Dog Plains, over 50 Yoopers spoke out at the public hearing, submitted comments to the MDEQ, and organized for tougher regulations. Despite mass opposition, the MDEQ approved the new weakened air permit, and is now met by a lawsuit from the Huron Mountain Club saying the changes are “arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law.”
Volunteering to Save the Wild U.P.
With your time and talent, we can continue building grassroots support for our communities and environment. Between putting up posters, making phone calls, knocking on doors, giving rides, guiding hikes, designing fliers, mine permitting research, and more, we’ll always have something to do! Get involved with Save the Wild U.P. — Call (906) 662-9987 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today to volunteer!