DNR receives revised application for proposed limestone mine in Mackinac County

Courtesy:  Michigan DNR

REXTON — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has received a revised land transaction application from Graymont, Inc., proposing development of a limestone mine and limestone processing facility in northern Mackinac County near the town of Rexton.

In comparison to the earlier Graymont proposal, the revised application significantly reduces the amount of public land the company would purchase. In addition, the application gives for the first time a proposed valuation for the limestone to be mined. Under the application, Graymont would pay the state 18.75 cents for each ton of extracted limestone. Those royalties would be deposited into the State Parks Endowment Fund. The entire revised proposal can be found on the DNR website.

“The DNR will thoroughly review the revised application for environmental, legal and social impacts,” said Bill O’Neill, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “As this review entails much of the same acreage originally proposed for acquisition, the total review time will be less than the first review. The review will still include each of the resource-managing divisions within the DNR, including Forest Resources, Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and Recreation.” A review of the application also will be conducted by the DNR’s Minerals Management Section.

The revised proposal – which alters an application first received by the DNR in November 2013 – seeks to acquire limestone mining privileges on approximately 10,357 acres of state-owned land. The company proposes to obtain an easement for surface use on a planned 7,256-acre underground mining location, land it had previously sought to purchase. In addition, the company is proposing to directly acquire the state-owned mineral rights for the underground mine.

The company proposes to directly purchase the surface of 1,005 acres, and acquire an additional 1,630 acres of land surface through exchanges, by which it would offer other property for public ownership in exchange for the acquired acreage. The proposed exchanged lands would provide immediate replacement of public property of equal or greater value. Part of the proposed land exchange would include an acquisition of 801 acres of state land as a buffer around a proposed limestone processing facility. The revised proposal also includes a request to obtain an easement for a transportation corridor for mining products.

Proceeds from the direct sale of lands would be available for the purchase of additional public land. Graymont has indicated that public access would be permitted to continue on lands it proposes to acquire, except where active mining or processing is occurring. The DNR would continue to manage the surface of the proposed underground mine location for recreational, environmental and economic values, including logging. The proposal includes the ability for Graymont to designate “exclusive use” areas in the surface easement area for locations that are needed for mining infrastructure such as vent shafts, conveyors, etc.

“We will undertake a detailed review of the revised application,” said O’Neill. “Feedback from the public remains a critical component of the review process and will be taken into consideration before any decisions are made.”

As a result of this review, staff will make a recommendation to DNR Director Keith Creagh, who has the authority to make a final decision on the proposal. Director Creagh will announce his decision at a future Natural Resources Commission meeting, after public review.

There are multiple ways people can provide comments about the proposal. The public will have an opportunity to make comments on the revised application at an upcoming Natural Resources Commission meeting. Additionally, the DNR will host a public meeting to discuss the revised proposal and recommendation prior to the director’s decision. The DNR continues to maintain an email address for the public to comment. Interested parties may send comments to DNR-GraymontProposalComments@michigan.gov. Mailed comments can be sent to the Roscommon Customer Service Center, Attn. Kerry Wieber, 8717 N. Roscommon Road, Roscommon, MI 48653. Comments will be accepted until a final decision is made.

A date, time and location have not yet been determined for the public meeting. An additional press release will announce the meeting information once confirmed.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.