08/21/2018- Menominee’s City Council took advantage of the chance to learn more about the Back 40 Mine and the permits issue for its development. Joe Maki is a mining specialist with the Michigan DEQ- the agency responsible for issuing the four permits necessary for the Back 40 Mine. He took questions from council members during their meeting Monday night. While Councilman Steve Fifarek raised concerns that Aquila Resources’ contingency plan to deal with unanticipated and accidental pollution is inadequate, Maki says contingency plans are based on the potential for disaster, and in this case, the potential is minimal.
Councilman Frank Pohlmann takes issue with Aquila’s statement following the issuance of their wetlands permit which said they received all state and federal permissions required to commence the mine’s development and operation, despite the thirty pages of conditions attached to the wetlands permit. Maki says some of the conditions must be met pre-construction, while others will be met before actual mine operations commence. He did note, however, that one key component- Aquila’s financial assurances- have yet to be submitted.
Maki says he doesn’t specialize in the wetlands permitting process and therefore was unable to answer questions about that hotly-contested issue. Pohlmann attempted to have a resolution formally inviting MDEQ personnel involved in the Aquila wetlands permit to a future council meeting added to Monday night’s agenda. That motion failed 5-4, but City Manager Tony Graff indicated MDEQ Water Resources Division staff are likely to attend a city council meeting this fall.