Working together to protect our water, air, soils, aquatic life, wildlife, and people from the dangers of open-pit metallic sulfide mining

Working together to protect our water, air, soils, aquatic life, wildlife, and people from the dangers of open-pit metallic sulfide mining

Working together to protect our water, air, soils, aquatic life, wildlife, and people from the dangers of open-pit metallic sulfide mining

Our mission is to work together to stop
the Back Forty Mine.

Join us in our efforts to:

  • inform the public regarding the dangers of the mine.
  • seek donations for legal fees for Ted Warpinski, renowned environmental attorney.
  • encourage local residents to get their well-water tested.

Action Alert!

Action Alert!

Donate to the Coalition TODAY to receive matching funds from Patagonia!


They are nearing the 10 million-dollar mark.  There is still time to donate for matching funds for the “Coalition to Save the Menominee River”, but it will end soon, as Patagonia has committed 9 million dollars thus far, to non-profits.

The Gift of Giving
This season when you donate to environmental protectors on Patagonia Action Works, we’ll match it. Donate in your name, or on behalf of a loved one, and make a difference for our home planet.
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*Patagonia will match all donations made on Patagonia Action Works between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, up to $10,000 per donation, until we’ve reached a maximum match of $10,000,000.
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Patagonia Action Works 

Update on our mining situation:  Yesterday Michigan approved two of their necessary permits.

100% of “sulfide mineral” mines pollute. US EPA names mining as the most toxic industry. The sulfide becomes sulfuric acid (think car battery acid) upon contacting air or water (it was fine when buried, but gets exposed during excavation). The resulting “Acid mine drainage” (AMD) leaches other toxic metals (mercury, arsenic, lead, manganese, etc.) into the groundwater. A Canadian mining company is getting closer and closer to digging a massive (2 Statues of Liberty deep & now more than 85 acres across, including tunneling under the Menominee River into WI after that) 50 yards from The River! The Menominee River is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s largest watershed and empties into Lake Michigan. We cannot let this happen! Such a mine in a town immediately lowers property values. The acidic dust causes acid rain. Mines kill the vegetation and pollute the earth waters (all aquatic life, the bald eagles here, and everything else that depends on it—tourism, recreation, & every home, human, and water-dependent business). It “draws down” (obliterates) all the surface and ground water in a five-mile radius—meaning destroying local parks (Shakey Lakes), our wetlands where endangered species live, and people’s wells.

All the excavated earth would be reactive (AMD) FOREVERmore.  No barrier lining will last forever. The one they’re proposing may last 35 years. Their proposed earthen dam type of retention enclosure is the very type that fails most, causing immediate, irreparable catastrophic destruction. Because of that, even the international mining organization (lobbying and mine support group) no longer supports this kind of toxic mine tailings “facility” (earthen dam).

Please consider a donation in this giving season.  Nobody in our coalition gets paid. 100% of our $$ goes to paying our legal fees and community education efforts.  We, The Menominee Indian Nation, and a local man all have  legal suits currently pending, and we WILL appeal any decision we lose.

Check out the 2019 Stevie the Sturgeon Art Contest!

For students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

When asked to point to a mine that has never polluted, Joe Maki of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) confessed, “I cannot.”


We spent another three days in Lansing October 23-25 on the Contested Case over Aquila’s wetland permit.  Testimonies are completed, and a decision is expected by the end of April from Judge Daniel Pulter. 

People are asking, “So, is the mine a done deal?” Several newspapers and television stations had reported in October that Aquila had “all four permits” and that the “Mine was approved despite objections.”  NONE of this is true, and the truth is in the attached update.

What is all the fuss about? 

What is the Back Forty Mine?

The Back Forty Mine is a proposal by Aquila Resources, a Canadian mining company, to extract copper, gold, and zinc from a site in Stephenson, Michigan. They intend to create an open-pit metallic sulfide mine.

The mine is estimated to cover 83 acres and be 750 feet deep (that’s the depth of two Statues of Liberty). It would be located only 50 yards from the edge of the Menominee River, which flows into Lake Michigan.

What’s the big deal about a hole in the ground?

It is the process of extracting the ore that contaminates local waters and soils. It produces sulfuric acid (the same caustic substance used in car batteries). This sulfuric acid dissolves rock and leaches out toxic heavy metals. Though the mines are lined below a certain level, this acid and metal seep out along the pit walls into rivers and aquifers (well water).

Also, cyanide will be used on-site because of the low grade of the ore. Because it is highly poisonous, cyanide has been banned from many countries and states, including Wisconsin.

Any contamination at the headwaters of the Menominee River is going to affect people who depend upon the fishing industry or the tourism industry— or for that matter, the clean water downstream.

Al Gedicks, Executive Secretary, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council.

Coalition to save the menominee river

Has there ever been a safe sulfide mine?

No. The Flambeau Mine operated near Ladysmith, Wisconsin, in the 1990s. Some point to it as a success, but the evidence of environmental contamination is overwhelming.

Let’s compare the two projects:

ParameterFlambeauBack Forty
Size of mine pit32 acres
Max depth: 225 ft
83 acres
Max depth: 750 ft
Ore production1.9 million tons12.5 million tons
Waste rock production8.6 million tons54 million tons
Tailings generated from on-site processing of ore0
There was no on-site processing of ore at Flambeau. It was all shipped to Canada for smelting.
11.8 million tons over seven-year life of mine
Use of an underground cutoff wall to impede groundwater flow between mine pit and neighboring riverYes
(the Flambeau Mine pit was 140 feet from the Flambeau River)
Yes, BUT the top of bedrock where the cut-off wall will be keyed in, is weathered, fractured, and permeable.
Environmental footprint181 acres865 acres
(4.5 times the Flambeau Mine)

Read a detailed report by Dr. Al Gedicks, Executive Secretary, Wisconsin Resources Protection Council.

How can I help fight this?

Test your water

If you are a property owner near the proposed site, we recommend having your well water tested. This will provide a baseline should the mine succeed, and we later must prove the negative consequences to our fresh water supply. Get more information here.


Funds are necessary to educate the public, oppose the mine, and support legal fees. Please consider making a contribution today.


People listen to people. We are coordinating efforts to reach every property owner on each side of the Menominee River in person. We also need people to participate in parades and events, write letters, and otherwise engage the public and oppose the mine. See how you can help.

Attend our monthly Coalition meetings

Coalition meetings are:
the first Thursday of each month
at 6:30
at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1600 University Drive, Marinette, Wisconsin.