Save Fish Habitat and Tribal Land From Proposed Mine

Menominee River by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Target: Harold R. Fitch, Chief of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals

Goal: Don’t operate a mine on tribal land that is along a crucial freshwater river.

A valuable freshwater river and historical tribal lands are in danger of pollution and destruction by a proposal to operate an open-pit mine a mere 150 feet from the river’s banks. Millions of dollars have already been invested in dam and fish passage projects along the river to secure a bustling sturgeon fish population in these waters. Furthermore, historical tribal lands lie within the proposed boundary of the mine. The time is now to speak out to protect tribal lands and wildlife habitat from this potentially destructive mining operation.

Known as the Back Forty Project mine, this operation, if approved, will be situated along the Menominee River, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula dividing Michigan and Wisconsin. The mining company, Aquila Resources Inc., hopes to extract gold, zinc, copper and silver out of the 83-acre pit for 16 years.

The mine’s proposed proximity to the Menominee River is concerning because this river is the largest source of sturgeon for Lake Michigan, and nearly $8 million have been contributed to projects benefiting this fish population in the river. Moreover, the Menominee Tribe claims that the Menominee River corridor is part of their original tribal land, meaning that the mine could be operating on the tribe’s burial sites and prehistoric agricultural fields.  

Not only would the open-pit mine destroy the land but could also cause pollution because a mine like this would expose sulfide rock deposits to air and water, which produces acidic water and possibly acidic runoff. Also, the processing of silver and gold requires the use of cyanide, a toxic chemical, to separate the mineral from the ore. Gold mines are notoriously known for producing cyanide-laden wastewater, and a spill of this wastewater could be possible.

We cannot risk our natural resources and tribal lands for invasive mining projects. We must stop this mine before it is approved to operate. By signing this petition, you are urging Michigan’s Chief of the Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals to deny Aquila Resources’ permit to operate this potentially destructive mine at this sensitive and coveted site.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chief Fitch,

Aquila Resources Inc. wants to operate an open-pit mine dangerously close to the banks of the Menominee River. Their operation could destroy Menominee tribal lands and pose a huge risk to the flourishing sturgeon population in the river.

The sturgeon population in the Menominee is the main source of sturgeon for Lake Michigan. If the mine contaminates the Menominee River, the repercussions could impact the the coveted Lake Michigan.

Furthermore, since Aquila intends to mine gold, silver, copper, and zinc out of the 83-acre pit, there is a risk of pollution through acid mine drainage and cyanide-laden wastewater spills. Aquila cannot guarantee that a spill or contamination will not occur from their Back Forty Project mine. I am urging you to consider the health of the Menominee River and the historical importance of tribal lands. Please deny Aquila’s permit to operate a mine near the Menominee River for the sake of Michigan’s natural and historical resources.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DVM

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