Nearly 400 people turned out to support the proposed Copperwood Mine in Gogebic County. Orvana Corporation is building the copper and silver mine, some 18 miles southwest of the inactive White Pine Mine.
The Michigan D.E.Q. heard from the public Tuesday night as part of the permitting process.
According to most of the 400 people who were there, this underground mine is a necessity. Gogebic County has been struggling, and according to the 2010 census, between 19 percent and 25 percent of residents live below the poverty line.
??This area is struggling,?? said county mine inspector Ralph Christensen. ??It needs more jobs. A lot of people have left this area; a lot of people would like to come back to this area.??
The response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. For the most part, they want this mine here. They think it'll be a big boost to the economy.
The director of the Department of Environmental Quality is optimistic.
??We've got a few comments about some people feeling we needed to look at a couple of aspects in more detail, but there is tremendous community support,?? said Oil, Gas, and Mineral Director, Harold Fitch.
Many speakers expressed their view that with the new mining regulations in place, they're not very concerned with the impact the mine could have on the environment. Some think some tweaks could be made to the plan before it's approved though.
Michelle Halley suggests using the tailings for mine support underground, rather than in an above ground facility.
??The tailings disposal facility could be made smaller or even eliminated,?? said Michelle Haley.
The D.E.Q. will be collecting written statements from the public for the next month. Following that, it'll be another month before a decision is made as the comments are organized and evaluated.