Menominee Indian Tribe challenges Back Forty Mine permit

KESHENA (WLUK) -- The Menominee Indian Tribe filed a petition for a contested case hearing on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's permit issued for the Back Forty Mine last year.

The department approved Aquila Resources Inc.'s mining permit for the proposed project in Menominee County, Mich. on Dec. 28, 2016.

The approved permit sparked a protest held the following day in Marinette.

Aquila Resources Inc. wants to operate the gold and zinc mine in Lake Township, about 150 feet from the banks of the Menominee River.

The Menominee River is considered the place of origin for the Menominee Tribe.

Menominee Tribal Chairman, Gary Besaw, said, "The MDEQ and Aquila Resources Inc. are well aware of the Menominee Indian Tribe's close cultural connection to this area and our serious concern in regards to our cultural resources and mounds including our ancestral burial sites located within the impact area of the proposed mine. Despite these valid and well documented concerns a full evaluation of the cultural resources and mounds threatened by this project never occurred.

The mining permit is one the four required permits for the proposed Back Forty Mine.

This is the first step in challenging the MDEQ's decision to approve the mining permit.

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