Orvana - Copperwood Project

 

Project Name: Copperwood

Website: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3307_29692_24403-290574--,00.html

Project Lead: Orvana Resources US Corp., a subsidiary of Orvana Minerals Corp.

Location of Project: 1842 Treaty territory in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, approximately 70 miles from the L'Anse Reservation and 45 miles from the Ontonagon Reservation. The site is located near the town of Wakefield, in Ironwood and Wakefield Townships, Gogebic County. Adjacent to Lake Superior (1.5 miles), Porcupine Mountain State Wilderness Area, North Country National Scenic Trail, and two U.S. Wild and Scenic Rivers (Presque Isle and Black) (click here to see a bird's eye view)

 

  
 
 

     

Metals: Copper, silver

Type of Mine: underground - room and pillar; located about 800 feet below the surface and would extend mining to within 200 feet of Lake Superior (although the deposit itself dips beneath Lake Superior)

Estimated production life, once open: about 14 years

Environmental and Other Concerns:

Proximity and impacts to Lake Superior, including pristine shoreline habitat

  • Water discharges into Nabeminag Creek of Lake Superior
  • Subsidence of the surface above the mine and potential associated hydrological impacts
  • Scale and characteristic of a permanent tailings basin on the surface which would fill over 16,000 feet of streams and about 60 acres of wetlands, with potential to leach heavy metals and other contaminants for centuries)
  • Least environmentally impactful alternatives are not being taken due to cost savings (i.e. backfilling tailings and eliminating subsidence
  • Potential impacts to reserved treaty resources, including nearby Lake Superior fishery
  • Potential perpetual care associated with pumping of a Lake Superior freshwater cap to prevent discharge of salty brine water (example of nearby White Pine Mine)
  • Dispersed chalcocite in the deposit, a copper sulfide mineral that is not exempt from the risks of acid mine drainage

Status: On April 30, 2012, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved a mining permit. MDEQ approved a water discharge permit on November 13, 2012 and an air permit on July 17, 2012.  On February 22, 2013 MDEQ issued a wetlands and stream fill permit. Orvana is currently working on design phases for water, electricity and construction.

March 1, 2013 USEPA Comments on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application
 
February 22, 2013 MDEQ Inland Lakes and Streams and Wetlands Protection Permit

January 31, 2013 USEPA Comments on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application

September 5, 2012 MDEQ Letter to Orvana – Wetlands/Streams Permit Review  

August 21, 2012 USEPA Objection Letter on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application

July 17, 2012 Air Permit to Install 180-11

July 8, 2012 KBIC Comments on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application

May 29, 2012 MDEQ Fact Sheet on Air Permit to Install

April 30, 2012 MDEQ Mine Permit

December 7, 2011 Comments on Orvana Mining Permit Application