Lundin Mining holds community gathering

MARQUETTE Looking to present more information to the members of the community, as well as to lend an ear to some of their ongoing concerns, Lundin Mining held its Eagle Mine Fall Community Forum Monday at the Hampton Inn of Marquette.

“This is the third year we’ve been doing the forums,” said Dan Blondeau, Senior Advisor of Communications and Media for Eagle Mine.

“It’s really just to get out to all the different communities between Baraga and Marquette and give them an update on the mine – what’s happening, what people can expect over the next year,” he added.

The two main issues addressed by community members at the forum were somewhat expected; the potential environmental issues the mine poses to the surrounding areas in Big Bay as well as the mill in Humboldt, and the mine’s trucks running along Marquette County Road 510.

Joyce Iwinski, a resident of Big Bay and a former registered nurse, said that the environmental impact was her biggest concern about the Eagle Mine.

“Health issues will be there,” she said. “It’s only a matter of time after there is a bioaccumulation of heavy metals.”

The community’s concerns over the fingerprint left behind by the mine has been a highly debated and controversial issue since the mine was even under consideration.

According to Blondeau, those concerns are a big part of why these forums began in the first place.

“We are regulated by the Department of Environmental Quality,” Blondeau responded. “We have a very robust monitoring program. And we also have the Superior Watershed Partnership that’s running the community environmental monitoring program. They’re kind of the watchdogs for us.”

He added that since he was born and raised in the area, he’s very confident with how they are protecting the land and what they are doing at the mine from day to day.

Matt Johnson, External Affairs Manager for the Eagle Mine, discussed the truck route issues, stating that the final alignment of the road is ultimately the road commission’s responsibility, and the mine is working with them to establish that alignment.

“We are also appreciative of the road commission’s changed decision to have less of an impact on the environment, and keep some of the trees along County Road 510 when that road is updated,” Johnson said.

Blondeau said the statistics they have gathered thus far imply that the community approval rating tends to be much higher among those who have visited the mine first-hand and taken a tour.

“I think the numbers are better because seeing is believing,” he said. “A lot of times, things change when they see the work we are doing out there.”

Justin Marietti can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 245.