The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eagle Mine application has ground to a halt

By The Building Tradesman

The state permitting process for a proposed $100 million investment in the Kennecott Eagle Project Mine in Marquette County has come to an abrupt pause.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced March 1 that it has withdrawn its "proposed decision" to approve a permit for the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. to conduct mining operations at the proposed Eagle Project Mine.

The decision, the DEQ said, "was made after discovering that two reports on the structural integrity of the mine were not properly made part of the public record or given a comprehensive technical review."

One of the reports, prepared by the Itasca Consulting Group, said that assumptions about underground rock stability and hydrology made in the mine permit request "do not reflect industry best-practice."

The building trades in the Upper Peninsula have been major supporters of the mine, which consists of a 350-million pound high-grade nickel/copper deposit over 73 acres. Kennecott has maintained that market conditions for those minerals justifies their investment, which would create 100 jobs when operable and 300 pre-operation construction, truck driver and indirect jobs.

Enviromentalists have attacked the mine project, although Kennecott has maintained that the underground mine would have no open pits or permanent waste piles and that the land would be restored over a two-year period.

Pending further review by the state, all mining permit plans are on hold, and public hearings regarding the mine that were scheduled March 6-8 in Marquette and March 12 in Lansing will be rescheduled.

"It is critical for us to gain a better understanding of the situation before we engage in that important part of this process," said DEQ Director Steven Chester. "This department has committed itself to making this process as open and
transparent as possible. In light of this information, we must allow the needed time for ourselves, as well as the public, to give it the appropriate review."