On March 6, 2015, British Columbia-based limestone company Graymont submitted a third revised proposal to purchase 10,000 acres of state forest land that spans three Upper Peninsula counties. The royalty for the limestone is still 30 cents per ton. Changes to the proposal include the value of the timber on the land in the price, and allowing the public and the DNR mediation and arbitration over land use. The changes to the proposal meet the approval of the DNR commission, and Keith Creager will make his final decision on March 19.
The economic development fund Graymont offered to the town and school district in Rexton is still in place. The amount of the grant would be $100,000 per year for five years starting in 2015. On the application, Graymont doesn’t know if they own the mineral rights to the land or not, and they still offer no business plan for how many jobs the mining operation would create for the community. Unlike in January, this third proposal has been approved, which means the state may agree to sell the Canadian company 10,000 acres of land that belongs to the people of Michigan.
What will the region look like if Graymont wins their bid? About 2,000 acres of the land will be open-pit mines. 7,000 will be used for underground mining. The proposal mentions dolomite as well as limestone extraction from the land. The 7,000 acre parcel would still be under the management of the state, however Graymont wants to reserve 400 acres of that land for infrastructure.
Graymont’s proposal includes relocating trails used by the public so people can still access the parts of the land Graymont will allow the public to use. Once mining operations are completed, Graymont will give the state “Right of First Offer” to buy the land back.
Considering the amount of money Graymont will potentially make if their proposal is accepted, they stand to make a lot more money that 30 cents per ton and half a million dollars to pay off the citizens of Rexton. Wetlands are going to disappear, and people’s air and water quality are going to suffer. The parcels of land Graymont wants spans over three counties. This is a major mining operation that will permanently change the landscape.
People wishing to leave comments with the DNR can still do so until March 19. You can write to Keith Creagh by email at DNRGraymontProposalComments@michigan.gov or mail a comment to Customer Service Center, ATTN: Kerry Wieber, 8717 N. Roscommon Road, Roscommon, MI 48653. If you haven’t done so yet, please take the time to email or write and let your voice be heard.