DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A Canadian firm that desires to drill for valuable metals close to Pickett Mountain is visiting Maine municipalities and teams to draw assist — and promising high-paying jobs in return.
Piscataquis County was the most recent cease for a consultant of Wolfden Assets, an Ontario-based funding group that desires to construct a mine in northern Penobscot County, close to the border with Aroostook County and the Katahdin Woods and Waters Nationwide Monument.
John Seavey, a Dover-Foxcroft resident and Wolfden consultant, informed Piscataquis County’s commissioners in regards to the mission Tuesday. The corporate owns about 7,000 acres in T6R6 WELS, an unorganized township close to Patten, the place it needs to extract a big mineral deposit following Maine’s strict requirements, he stated.
Wolfden guarantees about 272 jobs as soon as the mission is totally operational, and it could profit residents of Piscataquis County, together with these in Aroostook and Penobscot counties, he informed commissioners. Mining mission supporters tout the benefits of bringing extra employment to a rural space the place jobs may be exhausting to return by, however environmentalists have pushed again, fearing dangerous results on fish and wildlife, amongst different considerations.
The mission wants to interrupt via main hurdles with state companies earlier than it will possibly make actual motion, together with rezoning approval from the state’s Land Use Planning Fee. It’s the primary actual take a look at of Maine’s mining legislation, thought-about to be one of many hardest within the nation.
“We’re speaking a couple of $650 million to $700 million financial impression to the area,” Seavey informed commissioners. “Now, are there 272 individuals in Patten, Maine, on the lookout for a job? Detrimental. So how will we as an organization fill these jobs?”
Wolfden is working with Japanese Maine Group School and Northern Maine Group School, in addition to College of Maine campuses in Orono, Fort Kent and Presque Isle to implement coaching packages, he stated.
The common beginning pay for jobs can be about $100,000 a 12 months, Seavey stated. Staff would work seven days, then have seven days off, they usually may select to commute or reside at a rental or someplace close to the mining operation for a number of days at a time.
“With injection of capital into an space like that, it begins to develop,” he stated. “We’re going to be on the lookout for native assist and it’s going to develop to locations like Dover-Foxcroft, probably even towards Somerset County and Skowhegan.”
The corporate will even search for staff in northern Penobscot County and in cities like Presque Isle, he stated.
Wolfden has labored on the mission for about 4 years, which incorporates encouraging cities within the Pickett Mountain space to undertake ordinances that assist the mining. The cities of Stacyville and Hersey voted to again the mission final 12 months, which isn’t crucial however demonstrates native assist for Wolfden’s efforts.
The operation would contain extracting zinc, copper and lead and small quantities of silver and gold, and it may be executed safely in response to Maine’s strict requirements, Seavey stated.
County Commissioner Paul Davis, whose time period as a state senator just lately ended, introduced up considerations about sulfides polluting waterways and killing fish.
“In case you can tackle that, then it will likely be alright,” he stated. “However in the event you can’t tackle that, you’re not going to get what you need.”
Seavey acknowledged that some Mainers have worries in regards to the results of mining and stated that teams just like the Pure Assets Council of Maine, which has strongly opposed the mission, preserve the corporate in examine.
A priority that has constantly come up is Wolfden must show that its deliberate wastewater remedy will work.
Wolfden’s plan to comprise and retailer discharge contains utilizing a 50-acre parcel of land to stack “tailings” — a mining by-product consisting of processed rock or soil left over after mineral extraction — in a number of layers, every protected with a barrier to forestall seepage into the bottom.
The Land Use Planning Fee is contemplating the corporate’s software to rezone about 374 acres that might permit the mining operation. Wolfden filed its software in January 2020 and withdrew it in October 2021 after commissioners discovered important errors and inconsistencies. It resubmitted the appliance final month.
If zoning modifications are permitted, the corporate might want to spend from three to 4 years on environmental research and work with the Maine Division of Environmental Safety, Seavey stated.
It might take a 12 months or two to construct the plant, and mining would final from 10 to 12 years. Then the operation can be torn down and the panorama can be restored, Seavey stated. Wolfden anticipates the mission lasting 20 to 25 years from now, he stated.
The mission may set the bar for the remainder of the world and show that mining may be executed with out ruining Maine’s woods, waters and pure habitats, Seavey stated.
Jobs and constructive financial impression are wanted within the space, stated Commissioner Andrew Torbett, who serves because the chairperson. He warned Seavey about companies and environmental activists who will go after the mission and delay it to the purpose that Woldfen could be pressured to again out. He gave the failed Greenville-area ski resort redevelopment for instance.
Maine is filled with untapped pure sources that folks can’t appear to entry or aren’t allowed to, Torbett stated after Tuesday’s assembly.
“We have now these requirements to be met and we’d prefer to see them met,” he stated. “We don’t need our streams destroyed. However after what we’ve been via with the [Greenville] ski space, I’m very skeptical.”