Western U.P. mining project holds much promise

Passing almost unnoticed in recent days was news from the western Upper Peninsula that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has given its tentative approval to an effort that could see development of a copper and silver mine.

According to a DEQ written statement picked up by The Associated Press, the permit principally dealt with wetlands protection and mitigation. State officials and developer Orvana Minerals Corp. still must sign it to make it official.

According to AP, DEQ said Orvana made numerous changes in an original proposal to limit environmental damage in response to government and public comments.

Among them were replacing culverts with bridges, adding wetland preservation tracts and using natural design instead of ditches for channels that will divert streams around a waste rock basin.

Officials said they’ve also amended a permit granted earlier that will allow Orvana to build and operate the mine near Ironwood.

Based in Toronto, Orvana has been interested in mining copper and silver in that area of the U.P. for the past four years or so. And the region itself is no stranger to mining.

According to information made available by the company, the White Pine Mine produced more than 1.7 million tons of copper and over 4.5 million ounces of silver between 1953 and 1996.

This is an interesting and exciting project that, at least at this stage, has a great deal of promise for an area badly buffeted by the Great Recession and even well before.

We’ll watch it with interest and report new details as they happen.