The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

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Highland Copper gets wetland permit


November 1, 2018


LONGUEUIL, Quebec — Highland Copper has secured one of the permits needed to develop its mine in the northern part of Gogebic County.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s resource division issued an amended wetland, lakes and streams permit for the company’s Copperwood project in northern Ironwood and Wakefield townships, the company announced Tuesday.

“The receipt of the Wetlands Permit is a significant milestone in obtaining all permits required for the development of the Copperwood project,” Highland CEO Denis Miville-Deschenes said in a news release. “I want to take the opportunity to thank all stakeholders and employees involved in the process that has led to the receipt of this important permit.”

The company’s previous five-year permit expired in February, DEQ environmental quality analyst James Caron said at a July hearing regarding the permit.

“There is no extending of that permit, it’s good for five years. So they have to go through the process,” Caron told the Daily Globe after the hearing. “Which means if a permit were granted and if all of the activities associated with that permit were not undertaken in five years, they’d have to reapply for what wasn’t done again.”

The DEQ developed conditions for the permit, based on the public comments the department received, according to Highland’s press release, which the company accepted.

Those conditions, according to the release, include several mitigation requirements, such as:

—The preservation of 717 acres of wetlands and 93 acres of uplands in the Black River’s headwaters, as well as creating 18.3 acres of forested wetlands at the Copperwood site.

—Creating 13,700 feet of natural stream channel at the site and replacing a culvert on Two Mile Creek in Ontonagon County that will allow brook trout to move into the Cisco Branch of the Ontonagon River.

According to information presented at the July hearing, the company’s site plan calls for abandoning 16,557 lineal feet of stream channel on the site, while 12,460 lineal feet would be constructed to relocate streams.

Jeff King, who has been consulting as a wetland specialist for the Copperwood development, said at the hearing many of the property’s streams are the result of beavers or precipitation draining directly into the lake and don’t serve as tributaries to other rivers and streams in the area.

The wetlands permit is one of several permits and applications the company is pursuing for the Copperwood project.

It is also seeking a nonferrous metallic mining permit and an air discharge permit from the DEQ, as well an application from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use water from Lake Superior. It is also anticipating the wetland permit will lead to it receiving a “Dam Safety Permit-Tailing dam draft permit,” according to the news release.

“To date the permitting process has proceeded well and company management continues to believe that all required permits for the Copperwood Project will be in hand by year-end,” a company spokesman said in the release.


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