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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
Final major permit approved for Copperwood mine
The Department of Environmental Quality in Michigan has approved the final major permit for Orvana Corporation to begin its Copperwood mine north of Wakefield in Gogebic County.
According to regulators, the wetlands, inland lakes and streams permit is the result of many months of careful review by State and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specialists and response to input received from the public and Native American tribes.
This permit allows the company to extract elements from the earth while protecting natural resources to the best of their abilities.
For unavoidable resource impacts, a comprehensive mitigation program is required.
The mitigation includes construction of 13,700 lineal feet of stream channel, 18.3 acres of wetland and preservation of 810 acres of undeveloped land (which includes 596 acres of wetland) by placing them under a permanent easement.
In addition, eight undersized culverts will be replaced with bridges and waste rock from a past mining operation will be removed from streams to improve water quality.
Finally, a culvert that is impeding trout migration on a tributary to the Wild and Scenic Cisco Branch of the Ontonagon River will be replaced. Monitoring of these streams and wetlands will occur, in some cases for up to 30 years, and a $4.3 million financial assurance will be provided to ensure successful completion of the mitigation requirements.
Regulators also amended Orvana's mining permit to address concerns expressed during the review of the wetlands, inland lakes and streams application. The modification requires:
• Restrictions on the final mine plan to require elimination of planned subsidence.
• Conditions that require Orvana to monitor for and correct problems in the unlikely event of significant unplanned subsidence, leakage of contaminated water from the mine after closure or erosion downstream of the stream diversion to Lehigh Creek.
• Provision to ensure that the final grade on the tailings basin cap appropriately distributes water to receiving streams.
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