DEP hires Michigan and Maine firms to help modernize state mining regulations

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1 December 2012

AUGUSTA– The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has selected a Michigan firm with a Maine subcontractor to help modernize the state’s decades-old mining rules.

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The Michigan-based North Jackson Company and their Maine subcontractor S.W. Cole Engineering will work under DEP’s direction to draft updated metallic mineral mining rules that reflect most protective practices given current mining systems and controls.

Over the next 18 months, the North Jackson Company, an environmental science and engineering firm based in Michigan’s Marquette Mineral District, will work under DEP’s direction to draft new rules that modernize and improve environmental oversight of Maine’s 20-year-old mineral mining rules, pursuant to a law that received bipartisan support from the 125th Legislature.

The DEP awarded to North Jackson Company the approximately $175,000 contract because the company has experience not only with mineral mining activities through their consulting work, but because they helped Michigan – a state with similar climactic conditions to Maine – with a similar mining rule updating process.

North Jackson Company has subcontracted with the Maine-based S.W. Cole Engineering, Inc., which has a Caribou office, to provide geotechnical engineering consulting services, given that firm’s extensive expertise in Maine’s environmental regulations and familiarity with the state’s landscape.

The legislature and DEP agreed to contract out assistance with regulation drafting to ensure the modernized rules were based on sound science, reflected current mining best practices and processes, and were most protective of the environment.

The state advertised a request for proposals widely, including through notices sent to members of the National Mining Association and the Interstate Mining Compact. There were three dozen downloads of the RFP, with the fully-qualified North Jackson Company the only entity that eventually submitted a proposal.

Once updated rules are developed, they’ll go through a transparent approval process, providing multiple opportunities for public comment.

“Minerals can be recovered in that a way that keeps our air, land and water clean and Maine’s outdated mining rules needed to be modernized to reflect that. Our selection of partners with reputations for providing reliable technical information through rigorous science that allows their clients to make sound environmental management decisions demonstrates this process is one we take seriously. We look forward to working with the North Jackson Company and S.W. Cole as we undertake this important work together,” said DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho.

“DEP’s promise is that as this process moves forward, it will be thoughtful and transparent and if mining activity is carried out in Maine as a result of these regulatory updates, it will be done in a responsible, respectful way that helps Maine and its citizens receive the benefits of the resource while also guaranteeing that environmental protections are upheld and subsequent remediation and closure is adequate,” she added.

Among the areas to be addressed in the updated rules are ground and surface water protection, the management of waste rock and the inclusion of financial assurance mechanisms that will guarantee any proposed mining operation provides financially for long-term closure and remediation.

For more information about the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, visit www.maine.gov/dep. For more information about the North Jackson Company, visit www.northjacksonco.com. For more information about S.W. Cole Engineering, visit www.swcole.com.