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      Humboldt hearings

      It was standing room only at the Humboldt Township Hall this afternoon for the first DEQ public hearing on Kennecott's mining permit to reopen the old Humboldt Mill.

      Kennecott plans on investing $80 million in the facility and using it to grind up ore rock from the proposed Eagle Mine in northern Marquette County.

      "We're interested in anything the public has to say," explained DEQ Geologist Harold Fitch. "But the things we can take action on the application adequate? Does it cover everything? Is it accurate? Are their provisions in the application to adequately protect the environment?

      Some people weren't so sure.

      "There's nothing about fair labor," said one concerned citizen. "There's nothing talking about people running crushers."

      Others pointed out that the mining boosts the local economy.

      "I've seen nothing but good in what CCI has done," said another resident. "It's made a living for all of us and if they had to jump through as many hoops as Kennecott is having to go through, then we probably wouldn't have mining here."

      Kennecott officials say they view the public hearings as a way to gain feedback.

      "Part of the reason we're here," explained Kennecott Eagle GM Jon Cherry, "is so that we can also hear those comments because we are very interested in what the public has to say about the project and how we might even be able to improve it further."

      The DEQ will take all the comments into consideration and come up with proposed permit recommendations in mid-April. There'll then be another chance for public comment before a final decision is reached.