Public voices opinion over controversial mine on Wisconsin/Michigan border


The public had the chance to voice their opinion Thursday night about a highly contested mine on the Wisconsin and Michigan border.

It’s called the Back Forty Project and would consist of an open-pit to mine multiple different minerals. It would be located about 15 miles west of Stephenson, Michigan, near the Menominee River.

Michigan’s Department of Environmental quality is considering three proposed permits: a mining permit, a service water discharge permit and an air permit.

“The Back Forty project is to mine zinc, copper, gold and silver minerals out of the ground, process those and bring them to market where they will be used our manufacturing industry in the United States,” said Steve Donohue, VP of Foth Infrastructure and Environment, LLC.

Aquila Resources out of Canada is behind the mine and for the past several years, they’ve had a green bay environmental and engineering consultant work on an impact assessment.

“The documentation that has been submitted by Aquila Resources demonstrates that this project will protect the environment over short-term and more importantly, over the long-term,” said Donohue.

But those who live near the proposed mine are not convinced.

“With a sulfide mine, there are a lot of dangers because it can get into water ways and accidents could be catastrophic,” said Kathleen Heideman, Save the Wild U.P.

“This is our ancestral land and with that there are a number of cultural resources, like mounds, garden beds and dance rings,” said Joan Delabreau, Menominee Tribal Legislature.

The Canadian mining company has already received a few preliminary permits from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“We have put together a comprehensive review team to look at every aspect of this proposed mine operation. We have got a lot of technical expertise brought to bear on it and I am going to be the decision maker for the mining permit. I am going to be relying on those technical experts opinions and we are going to do what is right, we are going to protect the environment and respecting property rights, and the interest in developing the natural  resources of the state,” Hal Fitch, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

However, until Aquila Resources get their final permits, residents said they will continue to oppose it.

If you would like to voice your opinion, you have until November 3rd to give a written comment. You can email the Department of Environmental Quality at