(WFRV) – Aquila Resources Inc. provided an update on its Back Forty Project in Michigan and has decided not to move forward with its decision to appeal the ruling on the Wetlands Permit.

According to officials, Aquila had Osisko Technical Services (OTS) lead a feasibility study for the Back Forty Project. A key objective of the feasibility study is to show feedback from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) and the local community since the original Back Forty permits were issued.

The Feasibility Study team is focused on a design to avoid direct impacts to the wetlands. According to the release, even if a Wetlands Permit is required, Aquila Resources believes it can secure a re-issued permit from EGLE and move forward with the groundwater modeling.

Aquila Resources has also decided not to proceed with the contested case of the amended Mining Permit – because the Permit only contemplates the open pit portion of the Project. However, following the completion of the Feasibility Study, Aquila says they will submit an application for a Mining Permit that reflects a different design, including an underground mine plan.

The current feasibility study activities are focused on:

  • Evaluating open-pit configurations and surface infrastructure layouts that avoid direct impact to regulated wetlands
  • Progressing underground mine planning including ore delivery scheduling, ventilation and confirming the location of the box cut
  • Updating the mineral resource estimate using current metal prices and Net Smelter Return calculations
  • Preparing samples for additional metallurgical tests to support a simplified process flowsheet and enhanced gold recoveries

Officials say the company’s objective is to complete the study in the fourth quarter of 2021.

“We are committed to advancing the Back Forty Project with a collaborative approach that integrates feedback from the community. Our goal is to design, build and operate a 21st-century mine in sync with American values of safety, quality work, leading-edge technology, and environmentally responsible mineral extraction. The resulting mine will offer over a decade of net benefits to local and regional communities while being protective of the environment,” says Guy Le Bel, President & CEO.

The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc., has issued a statement following the news from Aquila Resources saying, “The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River is pleased that the decision of the Administrative law judge will stand and our hard work and efforts have contributed to the protection of the Menominee River and the surrounding wetlands from the detrimental effects of the proposed Back Forty mine.  While we expected to prevail before the review panel, it is a welcome development.”

The community group also reacted to the Company’s announcement of submitting a new mining permit,

However, as is always the case, the fight goes on.  Aquila indicated in its request to abandon its appeal of Judge Pulter’s decision, that it will be submitting a new mine application, later this year, that will for the first time include underground mining. Of course, we always expected going underground to be part of Aquila’s long-term plan. While Aquila will try to spin this as a new strategy to avoid or minimize wetlands impacts, we intend to remain diligent in our efforts and have significant concerns that extensive underground mining and the corresponding groundwater drawdown will have as much or even more impacts on the watershed and could be an even greater threat to the health of the Menominee River. 

Dale Burie, President, Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc.

The community group is focused on saving not only the Menominee River as a whole but the air, waters and soils around it.

For more information visit Aquila’s website.