A private club in the Upper Peninsula has filed suit to stop the construction of a new mine in Marquette County. It’s the first federal lawsuit to attempt to stop the project.
The nickel and copper mine, owned by Kennecott Eagle Minerals, has received permits from the state. But the Huron Mountain Club says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to sign off too.
The club owns nearly 20,000 acres of forest downstream from the mine on the Salmon Trout River.
The lawsuit says sulfuric acid produced by sulfide mining could pollute the river, and the club is "horror-struck" by the prospect of the watershed collapsing because part of the mine will be dug directly underneath it.
The lawsuit also says the federal government needs to consider the potential for damage to Eagle Rock, a site near the entrance to the mine that is sacred to American Indians.
The mine has been under construction since 2010.
Attorney for the Huron Mountain Club Rick Addison expects Kennecott will argue that it is too late to bring up this issue, but he says it was the company’s decision to build the mine without the necessary permits.
"The lateness argument has no resonance to me, it’s simply the last refuge of the environmental scoundrel," said Addison.
In a written statement, Kennecott says the mine has been extensively reviewed and already survived multiple legal challenges.