Dear Editor, 

Interesting history of local mining (EagleHerald, page A7, Nov. 4). Many things have made today’s mining much worse than yesteryear’s. In the gold rush days, mining was like picking the chocolate chips out of the cookie. Notice the pickaxe and shovel on the WI flag. Today’s mining is mining the sugar out of the cookie. About 98% of today’s mine product is waste rock. The local proposed metallic sulfide mine’s waste rock reacting with air and water, becomes sulfuric acid.

To get the gold from the proposed massive pit, 50 yards from the Menominee River (then intending to tunnel under the river) the excavated mineral-rock gets ground to the size of talcum powder. That’s a lot of loud, earth-shaking dynamite, digging and grinding creating massive dust. The retained dust goes into vats of lethal cyanide (to float off the gold). The other dust gets all over everything, causing sulfuric acid in contact with air and moisture. Is that dust in your lungs? Your kids’? Grandchildren’s? Eagles’? The rest of the reactive rock would remain on-site, causing acid mine drainage for thousands of years. That acid could be neutralized with limestone, but Aquila’s application said that’s too expensive for them. Their plan is to plow up dirt to surround (dam) their forever toxic waste slurry here.

People mistakenly believe if Michigan approves the permits, then no pollution occurs. That’s simply not true. Nothing changes the basic chemistry of sulfide-bound minerals naturally becoming sulfuric acid. If excavation starts here, so will the acid mine drainage that leaches other toxic metals into our surface and well water.

The proposed upstream “tailings management facility” (a dam) is the very worst but cheapest way to store toxins on-site forevermore. Because so many of that type failed causing catastrophic deaths and destruction worldwide they are now banned in Brazil too. Hundreds of people died in Brazil’s 2019 dam failure. Today’s massive mines cause far more damage than in the past.

The Flambeau Mine in Wisconsin’s past, only one-ninth the size of the proposed pit here, did not process nor bury their wastes there. Still, it’s toxic leaching (greatly exceeding normal/allowed mineral levels) was documented in the original court case and its appeal.

Aquila’s Sept. 11 reply to EGLE/MDEQ’s request for more information said that the risk of mine failure here is negligible. That’s a bold-faced lie. The risk to our water, tourism & manufacturing economy, our health, and our environment is 100%. There has never been a sulfide mine that did not pollute. Freshwater is precious and quickly becoming a scarcer resource. Join us or donate to keep ours clean now.

Let’s leave mining here in the past.


Natalie Lashmet