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GOGEBIC COUNTY - Since being cited for environmental damage four months ago, the Highland Copper Company is taking strides in repairing affected landscapes along County Road 519.
It was part of an exploratory drilling which began in early February.
"When we were drilling here in the spring, early April, the weather became much warmer than we expected," said Carlos Bertoni, Executive Vice President of Project Development for Highland Copper. "Our activity along this snowmobile trail generated mud, generated some sediments that were contained in this area. The DEQ issued a notice of violation to us and, of course, we committed to repair this area and that's why we're here today to show progress that we've made."
"You certainly can see a difference as far as how the plants have come back and how areas have dried up, however, there are still some areas where the ground is too soft to have equipment on," said John Pepin, Deputy Public Information Officer with the Michigan DNR.' "They're waiting for that to dry out a little bit before they do some grating there and then planting some seed mix."
While there has been progress in repairing the landscape, there is still some work left to do. Completion of the restoration project is expected next winter, once the ground has frozen and crews are able to work once more.
"Yes, we made a mistake drilling here under those conditions," said Bertoni. "We stayed drilling here too long on this particular spot. But we committed to repairing that mistake and that's what we're doing and we want to demonstrate to the public, to the community, that we go by what we say. We're committed to preserving the environment and maintaining pure Michigan."