Protecting and Sustaining our Environment
We work every day to prevent, or otherwise minimize, the potential impacts of our operations on the environment. At Eagle Mine, we maintain the highest standard of environmental performance through a number of programs we have developed and implemented focusing on air quality, ecosystem services, biodiversity, energy, land, water, waste, and closure. The Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) is an independent program run by community organizations that monitors our environmental performance.
Reducing and monitoring emissions is a top priority at Eagle Mine. We look for ways to continuously improve our performance when it comes to air quality and by doing so we minimize our potential impact on the Upper Peninsula. We conduct regular monitoring of air quality and regulated emissions at both the mine and mill and have programs in place to maintain these emissions well below permitted limits.
- On an annual basis, particulate emissions from Eagle’s ventilation system are approximately 50% of the limit granted by the facility’s air permit.
- Our projected particulate emissions at Eagle are less than 1 percent of the current total in Marquette County.
At Eagle, we use water at every stage of our business: for exploration, construction, mining, milling, and reclamation. We focus on ways to minimize the amount of water we remove from the environment, reuse it whenever possible and return it to the environment in a state that meets regulatory standards. At both the mine and mill, we use a state of the art, multi-phase water treatment plant to purify water from operations. Once purified, water is recycled back into the mining and milling process or returned to the environment via an infiltration system. With advanced water treatment processes and strict monitoring programs in place, we are confident that our potential impact on the environment will be minimized.
Responsible mining goes beyond safe extraction of nickel and copper, but it is managing the tailings that are left after removing the valuable parts of the ore. At the Humboldt Mill, the tailings are sent to the Humboldt Tailings Disposal Facility (HTDF). The HTDF is the original open-pit iron ore mine that filled with water over time and has housed the tailings from Ropes Gold Mine for over 20 years. The pit is approximately 400 feet deep and contains 200 feet of tailings from Ropes. Eagle’s tailings are permitted to be placed in the pit with water cover varying from a minimum of 20 feet, but in some locations are likely to have up to approximately 90 feet of water cover. This subaqueous disposal of tailings is considered best practice for storing sulfide-bearing tailings.
Reclaiming the natural state
When mining operations are complete, restoration efforts will be implemented quickly and efficiently. To preserve the environment, it’s our goal to see any land disturbed during mining will be reclaimed to establish a self-sustaining eco-system. All development rock will be returned to the mine as part of the underground reclamation. It will be restored to the pre-mining landscape using native vegetation to promote enhanced wildlife habitat. The final land use will be compatible with existing uses on adjacent properties. Post closure management and monitoring will be conducted for 20 years after the completion of surface reclamation.
Regulation for modern mining
Mine and mill sites are regulated by Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA), which makes semi-annual inspections. Environmental regulation of Eagle Mine’s operations is conducted by the Environment, Great Lakes & Energy Department (EGLE).
Community Environmental Monitoring Program
The mining industry isn’t always thought of as being upfront when it comes to reporting on environmental impacts. At Eagle Mine, we aim to change that perception by participating in a progressive approach to transparency called the Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP). At that heart of the CEMP are two well-known community organizations, Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) and the Marquette County Community Foundation (MCCF) and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC). SWP and KBIC monitor Eagle’s environmental performance and reports back to the community while MCCF ensures that the program funding is at arm’s length. Eagle Mine has committed to funding CEMP in the amount of $300,000 per year, with intent to renew every three years. With this model, we’re confident the U.P. is setting a new benchmark for community oversight of modern mining. Learn moreLearn More