Opponents appeal decision to permit Michigan nickel-copper mine

Environmental and community groups opposed to a nickel and copper mine being constructed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula aren’t giving up the fight.

AP reports that four groups against the Eagle Mine, under construction by Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, are asking the state Court of Appeals to overturn a judge’s decision last month to uphold the mine permits.

The groups say the mine poses a high risk of air and water pollution, and could prove unstable:

They say the mine’s rock ceiling would be unstable and could cave in, endangering workers and the Salmon Trout River under which the tunnel would be drilled. Opponents also say metallic dust, vehicle exhaust and other contaminants would foul the air, although the DEQ has approved an air emissions permit for the mine.

A Facebook page that is collating comments and videos opposing the mine includes videos entitled “Kennecott Eagle Mine: Is Acid Mine Drainage Lake Superior’s Future?” and “Kennecott Eagle Mine: Stomping on Native American Rights,” with the latter referring to the mine’s location on state lands sacred to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

The company contends that “we can operate in an environmentally safe and responsible manner, while contributing to job creation and the economic vitality of the area and state,” Kennecott Eagle Minerals president Adam Burley stated on Nov. 29 after the permits were approved.

Burley said Monday he “was disappointed the legal fight would continue,” reported AP.

Kennecott has been trying for a decade to develop the mine, which is expected to produce 300 million pounds of nickel, 250 million pounds of copper and small amounts of other metals, the company states. If it is built, Eagle Mine would be the only primary nickel mine in the United States.

The company started underground blasting in September and expects to begin mining in 2013.

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