Kennecott Eagle Mine Project
Approximately 25 miles west of Marquette, Michigan (Upper Penninsula, Marquette County, Michigamme Township)
Proposed Site Diagram (JPG, 130KB)
Status of Underground Injection Control Program Decision
EPA has determined that the redesigned Treated Water Infiltration System is not regulated by EPA.
Public Participation/Contact Information
If you would like us to notify you of public participation opportunities, please send an email to Ross Micham (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Redesigned Treated Water Infiltration Systems Does Not Need a UIC Permit (PDF) (1 p, 292KB) (Letter from EPA to Kennecott)
- Presentation from EPA Open House, Oct. 22, 2008 (19 pp, 410KB)
- Frequently Asked Questions About Environmental Aspects of the Kennecott Eagle Mine Project PDF (6 pp, 109KB)
- About the Project
- EPA's Role
- Other Key Federal Environmental Program Considerations
- State's Role
- Timeline of Events
- UIC Permit Application
- Key Documents and Correspondence (Updated 2/16/11)
Kennecott is constructing a nickel and copper sulfide mining operation within the Yellow Dog Plains of northwestern Marquette County in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan. EPA notified Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company that it had to obtain approval from the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program before construction and operation of any underground injection well at the mining site. EPA requires this approval under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to protect underground sources of drinking water.
EPA's Role and Regulatory Responsibility Under the Safe Drinking Water Act
EPA's only direct regulatory role in the Eagle Project relates to the UIC Program requirements. This role is limited to regulation of systems that dispose of wastewater underground through underground injection wells. Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company plans to use three types of disposal methods that EPA regulates.
- Sanitary Waste Disposal - Kennecott proposes to use a large-capacity septic system for underground disposal of treated sanitary waste. EPA has authorized this system "by rule". "Rule-authorization" means the well must comply with all the requirements of the UIC program but does not require an actual UIC permit.
- Mine Backfill - Kennecott will need to place waste rock and concrete into mined-out areas. This would be done in the future as parts of the mine are closed. Kennecott submitted information about the two boreholes that will be used for this purpose in March 2010. EPA has rule-authorized these injection wells.
- Mine Re-flooding - At the end of mining, Kennecott will pump water into any remaining small empty spaces (the voids between the rocks and cement backfill). Kennecott submitted basic information about how it plans to do this in March 2010. EPA has requested information about this aspect of the mining operation to determine what the company must do to comply with UIC regulations.
Clean Air Act: the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) issued an air permit to Kennecott in December 2007 after a 78-day extended public comment period. EPA reviewed the permit, had several discussions with MDEQ about permit conditions, and had no formal comments.
Clean Water Act: MDEQ determined that there is no immediate connection between the water discharged underground at the site and local surface water. Therefore, MDEQ did not require the company to apply for a surface water discharge permit. EPA evaluated this decision and concurred.
Endangered Species Act: This Act protects Federally-listed endangered or threatened species and applies to individuals and companies. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service informed EPA that there may be federally listed species or critical habitat in or near the site of the proposed facility.
EPA Indian Policies: EPA has been working directly with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and other affected tribes on how UIC program regulations apply to the Eagle Project. EPA has additional responsibilities when implementing environmental programs to work with tribal governments on those actions that may affect tribal lands and resources. The proposed mine is located within ceded territory under the Treaty of 1842. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is located 30-40 miles west of the proposed mine.
Note that the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Historic Preservation Act apply only to federal undertakings, such as EPA permits. Since there are no federal permits at issue, these laws do not apply to this project at this time.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (now the Department of Natural Resources and Environment) has issued a mining permit, an air use permit, and a ground water discharge permit to Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company for the Eagle Project. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (now also part of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment) has granted the company two land leases.
|July||EPA determined that the redesigned Treated Water Infiltration System does not need a UIC permit.|
|May||EPA rule-authorizes mine backfill chutes.|
|March||Kennecott withdraws its UIC permit application after Michigan approves the re-design.|
|December||Kennecott responds to September 4, 2009 Maest/Prucha report.|
|November||Kennecott provides additional information about wastewater treatment plant.|
|October||Fish & Wildlife Service concurs with EPA Endangered Species Act determination.|
|September||EPA receives additional comments from Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.|
EPA receives Cadmus report on portions of January 2009 Maest report.
|August||EPA determines that the project is "unlikely to adversely effect" any federally-recognized endangered species and requests Fish & Wildlife Service concurrence.|
|July||EPA receives Keweenaw Bay's comments on Kennecott's March 2009 letter.|
|June||EPA receives Cadmus review of additional information submitted by Kennecott.|
|April||Kennecott responds to request for inventory and other information concerning the proposed mine.|
|March||EPA requests inventory and other information concerning the proposed mine.|
EPA meets with Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company representatives.
|February||Kennecott provides additional information responding to Cadmus report.|
|January||Kennecott provides additional information.|
EPA meets with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community officials.
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community submits Comments in Opposition to the Issuance of a UIC permit to Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company.
|December||Kennecott provides partial response to request for additional details.|
|November||Kennecott provides partial response to request for additional details.|
|October||EPA requests additional details from Kennecott that are needed to complete the technical
EPA holds open house on Kennecott Mine proposal (Press release) (10/22/2008)
|August||Kennecott responds to EPA Request for Additional Information. (8/21/2008)|
Kennecott submits NHPA Section 106 Assessment. (8/18/ 2008)
|July||EPA sends Kennecott a Request for Additional Information. (7/18/2008)|
|February||Grand Portage Band of Chippewa requests to be a consulting party on the project. (2/15/2008)|
|December||EPA meets with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community officials. (12/13/2007)|
|November||Lac Vieux Desert Band of Chippewa requests to be a consulting party on the project. (11/19/2007)|
|October||EPA notifies other potentially affected tribes of NHPA issue and requests information about their connection to any traditional cultural property in the mine project footprint. (10/31/2007)|
|July||U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services notifies EPA that their records do not indicate the presence of
federally listed species or critical habitat in or near the proposed project. (7/10/2007)|
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community requests consultation related to “traditional cultural property” and NHPA issues. (6/14/07)
|May||EPA determines that the UIC permit application is complete. (5/29/2007)|
|April||EPA receives the requested UIC permit application. (4/27/2007)|
EPA approves the large capacity septic system for underground disposal of treated sanitary wastewater. (4/16/2007)
|March||EPA requires Kennecott to submit a UIC permit application for the treated industrial wastewater infiltration system. (Press release) (3/23/2007)|
|February||Kennecott provides information EPA requested about the septic system and the treated industrial wastewater infiltration system. (2/08/2007)|
|January||EPA meets with Kennecott officials to discuss UIC requirements. (1/16/2007)|
|March||EPA notified Kennecott of UIC requirements. (3/31/2006)|
EPA reviews state permit applications and determines that three disposal aspects of the project require UIC approval.
|February||State receives permit applications from Kennecott for Eagle Project.|
EPA received Kennecott's UIC permit application on April 20, 2007. Kennecott submitted most of the same information tit used to apply for the groundwater discharge permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (now Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment). Kennecott withdrew its UIC permit application on March 24, 2010.
Key Documents and Correspondence
(Note: This list includes only the most significant of the many documents related to this site-- See Full List. If you are unable to find the item(s) you want, also see the state's websites. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has issued a mining permit, an air use permit, and a ground water discharge permit to Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company for the Eagle Project Mine. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has granted the company two land leases. If you still can't find what you're looking for, please feel free to contact us.)
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