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DEQ Approves First Permit for Western UP Copper and Silver Mine

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A company that wants to open a mine in the Upper Peninsula has cleared its first hurdle with state regulators. Orvana Resources hopes to start operations in 2014. 

Orvana Resources wants to extract copper and silver from underground deposits located near Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. It’s not far from a copper mine that shut down in the 1990s.

Brad Wurfel is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says this is the first of several permits Orvana needs, but the state is supportive of a re-invigorated mining industry in the U.P.

“We’re moving through this as quickly as we can, but we’re also committed to doing it right, and so this first permit out of the gate signals to everybody that this is on its way forward,” he says.

Orvana still needs permits to withdraw water from Lake Superior and to discharge polluted water into a stream, as well as a wetlands permit. Clean water groups have expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the project.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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