Here is a quick synopsis of this organization is working together to protect our water, air, soils, aquatic life, wildlife, and people from danger and of open-pit metallic sulfide mining. The company Aquila Resources, a Canadian exploration company, has been “issued” four permits, with MULTIPLE pages of conditions that have to be met before the permits would be considered “effective.” This is far from over!
Aquila seeks to mine zinc, copper, lead, gold, and silver from an open pit sulfide mine they call the BACK FORTY. The permits state the life of the mine will be eight years, while their investors are being told 16 years, with the final eight being an underground mine. The parameters of the mine would be 83 acres wide (e.g., two Lambeau Stadium complexes wide). It would be 750 feet deep (e.g., two Statues of Liberty) and a MERE 50 yards from the Menominee River which flows into Lake Michigan. When crushed sulfide rocks in particles interact with oxygen and water, they create sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is the same substance using car batteries.
Sulfuric acid dissolves the rock and leeches of toxic heavy metals, a substance known as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). Unlike most iron mining, sulfide mining pit lakes contaminate water bodies, as acid and metals leeches INDEFINITELY along the walls into aquifers and rivers. Aquila does not have a contamination plan in case of major spills in place; neither does Marinette or Menominee. What are we risking if we allow this mine to take place?
The Eastern United States has nearly 4500 miles of streams polluted from mining. Yeah that is right, 4500 miles of streams! The Western United States has nearly 10,000 miles of waterways by 20-50,000 mines still generating AMDs. In 2010, the metal mining industry was responsible for 41% of all toxins released into the environment. Sulfide mines pollute up to 27 billion gallons of fresh water per year in the US and will do so in infinity.
MINING COMPANIES ARE UNABLE POINT ONE SULFIDE MINE THAT HAS EVER BEEN DEVELOPED, OPERATED, AND CLOSED WITHOUT PRODUCING POLLUTED DRAINAGE. When asked to identify the mine that has never polluted, Joe Maki of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) confessed, “I cannot.” Wisconsin’s “Prove It First” Mining Law, now removed, stated that the mine must operate 10 years and be called for 10 years. It just cannot be done. This demonstrates the mining industry’s ability or inability to sustain claims of advanced technology in mining.
Cyanide would be used on site because of the low grade of the ore. Cyanide kills by blocking the body’s ability to use oxygen. Specifically, cyanide interferes with an enzyme in human cells known as cytochrome oxidase. The enzyme helps to transfer oxygen from the blood to cells and tissues. Cyanide because of its highly poisonous nature has been banned by most countries, territories, and states including Wisconsin. Menominee County, Michigan passed a Resolution banning cyanide used in mining. One pound of cyanide will kill 1,244 people; the BACK FORTY estimates 1.4 billion pounds over 16 years. Are you not scared?
In 1988 alone, overall cleanup costs of AMD were estimated at $30 billion; taxpayers are left with the cost of cleanup after FOREIGN companies have vacated and filed for bankruptcy. Upon mine closures, 65 million tons of waste rock and tailings would be back fitted into the pit, where they would remain a festering time bomb of pollution and hazardous waste. Leachate from the mining process has proven highly elevated levels of ARSENIC, SULFIDE, LEAD, MANGANESE, COPPER SULFATE, IRON, MERCURY, CADMIUM, all of which are detrimental to the plants, animals, aquatic life, in humans-even in the slightest elevated levels. The pollutants can lead to failure the respiratory system, nervous system, brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and can cause different cancers.