Michigan DNR Delays Decision to Lease Public Land to Kennecott Minerals for Mining Project

Michigan DNR Delays Decision to Lease Public Land to Kennecott Minerals for Mining Project

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director, Rebecca Humphries, has delayed, indefinitely, an expected decision on Kennecott Mineral’s permits for its Eagle Project. Approval of a surface use lease permit and approval of the mining and reclamation plan have been delayed over concerns regarding ground subsidence, water flowage into the mine and siting of surface facilities.

At a December 6, 2007 Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting, commissioners recommended approval of Kennecott’s permits if the company could satisfy DNR requests for additional, and comprehensive, information. In response, Kennecott submitted information that has proven to be inadequate.

According to DNR Resource Management Deputy, Mindy Koch, Humphries found it "very, very important that the department do a thorough review” and that the director "is holding the decision until we get the clarification we need. We still believe there are outstanding issues we need clarification on.”

Recently, a Kennecott spokeswoman, Debra Muchmore, said that Kennecott fully expected the DNR to approve the company’s permits at the January NRC meeting.

The Michigan DEQ previously approved Kennecott’s mining, air quality and groundwater discharge permits on December 14, 2007, and did not take issue with problems in Kennecott’s mining plan.

This delay marks the first instance, at the state level, of any measure of critical scrutiny regarding Kennecott’s permit applications. Michigan legislators and the Governor have been largely silent on the issue and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) was forced to revoke the agency’s preiliminary decision, last March, when opposition groups discovered a report, critical of the project, that was suppressed from the public record.

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