Tribal Mining Program
A mining rush is currently taking place throughout the Upper Great Lakes particularly in the Lake Superior basin–including Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, northern Wisconsin, and northern Minnesota. The State of Michigan has approved nonferrous metallic mining permits for three new projects at this time, the Rio Tinto Eagle Mine and Humboldt Mill, and the Orvana Copperwood Project.
While Michigan has a history steeped in mining over the past 170 years, Anishinaabe people continue to carry on ancient cultural traditions tied to this region. The quality and health of the water, wildlife, fish, plants and medicines continue to sustain our well-being and culture. The effects of historical mineral development have included negative economic impacts associated with the boom and bust cycle of the industry, and environmental legacies that persist on our landscape today.
Since 2004, mineral exploration activities have been increasing. A number of companies have been looking for metallic sulfide mineral and uranium deposits within and around the boundaries of KBIC’s L’Anse and Ontonagon Reservations in the western Upper Peninsula. Mining of such deposits and associated activities have well-known environmental management challenges, including the release of toxic metals and acid mine drainage that has caused significant irreversible impacts to groundwater and surface water systems in the United States and abroad. The KBIC Tribal Council has repeatedly identified mining as a priority concern due to its potential to significantly impact treaty rights, treaty reserved resources, area ecosystems, and the health and welfare of the community and future generations.
The Tribal Mining Program is working to increase the community’s capacity to address mining in the 1842 ceded territory and Lake Superior basin.
Staff assists in tracking mineral exploration, building technical and scientific expertise on mining related activities, informing tribal government decision-making, and ensuring tribal participation in permit processes. Another critical component of the Tribal Mining Program is to provide community outreach and education. Collecting and disseminating information on mining will help the community and public understand the issues and potential risks associated with mining. Increased community awareness will result in more active preservation of Lake Superior ecosystems, human health, tribal resources, and Anishinaabe life-ways.