Mine? What Mine?

Haul road construction for Eagle Mine has already polluted the Salmon Trout River, but unless you’ve been following the Eagle Mine story closely you wouldn’t know that after reading in the local paper about this minor disaster: a road crew’s accidental “exposure” — or rupture — of a perched groundwater seep. “Dirty Roadside Runoff,” by John Pepin, a Marquette Mining Journal staff writer, never once mentions Eagle Mine or Eagle’s parent company, Lundin Mining. Pepin is scrupulous at least in this regard: he keeps the mining company clean.

(The Mining Journal is available online to subscribers only, but you can read it on a phone or tablet if you download the paper’s free app).

The front page item sidesteps any mention of Eagle, laying the “unlawful discharge of sediment and turbid water to a wetland ravine” — which violates the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act — at the feet of the Marquette County Road Commission. The Michigan DEQ sent a violation notice directly to the Road Commission on August 4th; to date, so far as I can tell, Lundin Mining and Eagle Mine were not put on notice either by the DEQ or the EPA. Nor, it seems, will the local press hold the mining company accountable. Instead, the Journal seems to have taken pains to keep the company’s name out of the dirt, and keep the reading public in denial. (Those looking for a more honest and more informative account will find it here, on the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve’s site).

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve's site features this photo -- data August 6th -- and other photos of the perched seep's destruction.

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve’s site features this photo — dated August 6th — and other photos of the perched seep’s destruction.

Let’s be clear. The Road Commission has undertaken this “upgrade” of County Road AAA for the mining company; there is no other reason for the work, and no other reason to advertise the work as an upgrade except to pretend that the Eagle Mine haul route will benefit the public in some way. The truth could have been stated in a single sentence: Lundin will be the primary if not the sole beneficiary of the road work on the AAA.

Pepin’s article never comes close to stating that one simple fact, and never even hints at the controversy over the haul route that led to this disaster. But this is about more than shoddy journalism or what might even be a case of corporate capture at the editorial offices of the Mining Journal.

As Lundin prepares to bring Eagle online, and as the mining boom proceeds all around Lake Superior, clear lines of accountability are critical — and need to be carefully drawn. Big miners continue to “de-diversify” and juniors are trying to scale up: in the turmoil, we’ve seen mine properties around Lake Superior flipped (e.g., Copperwood, or Eagle itself); others, like Twin Metals, thrown into limbo; and who can tell what effects Lundin’s big South American acquisition of Freeport’s Candelaria (in partnership with Franco-Nevada) will have in this northern district?

In a situation like this, where ownership stakes are changing hands and companies are exerting undue influence over public officials, accountability can get blurry and responsibilities neglected. The last thing we need — when the future of Lake Superior itself is at stake — is a compliant and servile press adding to the confusion.

3 thoughts on “Mine? What Mine?

  1. Michele Bourdieu

    Hi, Louis. Very good points. I can’t access the Mining Journal without a subscription but I did post the Yellow Dog Watershed article on Keweenaw Now (I see now that they didn’t mention Lundin either, only the Road Commission; but I’m sure they assume everyone in the local area knows the road work is being done for the Eagle mine). You might be interested in the article I posted this week, from Esteban Chiriboga of GLIFWC (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission). He definitely identifies the road work as part of the Eagle mine project. See: Keweenaw Now: Guest article: Mine haul roads and their potential environmental impacts

                  Keweenaw Now: Guest article: Mine haul roads and their p… By Esteban Chiriboga, GLIFWC (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission) Mapping Specialist Published in GLIFWC’s Fall 2014 issue of MAZINA’IGAN. Re… View on keweenawnow.blogs… Preview by Yahoo   Keep up your good work and thanks for your continued interest in our issues in the U.P. Will you and Ken be at the climate march on Sept. 21 in New York? I’m planning to go. Already have train tickets. Would love to see you there and interview you for my story. Michele

    Reply
    1. lvgaldieri Post author

      Hi Michele,
      For some reason the link to your article didn’t appear in the comment, so here it is, for those who would like to learn more about the damage haul roads can do: http://keweenawnow.blogspot.com/2014/08/guest-article-mine-haul-roads-and-their.html
      I also Tweeted it for good measure.

      As for the Climate March on 9/21: yes, I’ll be there.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: A Letter to Karen Maidlow, Michigan DNR | lvgaldieri

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