Articles

June 18, 2019 – Aquila Back Forty Permit Applications and Permit Application Amendment


– [Jim] Okay, good evening everyone. This is Jim Ostrowski with
the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Welcome to our public information webinar on the Aquila Back Forty
Permit Applications and Permit Application Amendment. Again, I’m Jim Ostrowski. I will be the moderator for
our meeting this evening. Thank you all for joining us. I just have a few housekeeping
guidelines to go through as you’re all getting logged in. First of all, all lines are muted, which means that you can hear
us, but we can’t hear you. That doesn’t mean we don’t
want questions though. That’s why we’re here. If you have a question,
we will be addressing those after the presentations. If you look at your Go To
Webinar toolbar on your screen, you’ll see a box, a question chat box. Just type your question
there and hit submit, and that comes into us, and
then we will read them off as they’re submitted,
if you have a question. We’re also recording the webinar. And I’ll be posting it
on our YouTube channel later in the week. We’ll try to get that
done as soon as possible and get that link out to
you as soon as we have it. Also, if you look on your
toolbar in the Handouts tab, you’ll find three handouts
that we have available for our meeting tonight. One is a frequently
asked questions document. Another is the public
meeting, actual notice. And then we have another one in there that’s this slideshow for
today that we’ll be using. So, you have all those
in your Handouts tab. Okay, so the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to inform the public
about the permit applications and proposed permit amendment, and to gather information
for a consolidated public hearing to be held
on Tuesday, June 25th. The Michigan Department of
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy welcomes you to
this informational presentation about the Aquila Back Forty project. To reach the widest possible audience, this presentation will be given twice. The first presentation
was yesterday afternoon from one to two o’clock Eastern Time. And then we’re doing it
again today, tonight, from six to seven today, this evening. The content is the same for each session. The original permit
decision by the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, and
the Water Resources Division are currently being contested, and we are limited in what we
can say about those permits. Today’s presentations will
focus on the application to amend the Part 632 mining permit, a new application for
a Part 55 air permit, and a new application to construct two regulated dams at the mine site. After the presenters have
completed their talks, we will entertain questions and comments. During these webinars,
we will not be taking formal comments on the
various applications. We’re offering these
informational sessions to provide information
and answer questions about the permit decisions
and the processes. Comments and questions submitted during the webinar will not be part of the official formal record. Official comments must be made at the public hearing or
submitted via writing. So that public hearing,
again, is June 25th. Presentations will be
made by Melanie Humphrey with the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division. Andy Drury with the Air Quality Division, and Luke Trumble with the
Water Resources Division. We have also with us tonight, Adam Wygant, who is a director of the Oil,
Gas, and Minerals Division. And he is here to help answer questions. Like I said earlier, our frequently asked questions document has been made available and can be downloaded
from the Handouts tab in your Go To Webinar toolbar. And once again, if you have a question, please submit it using the question box on your Go To Webinar toolbar. We will read and answer questions after all the presentations are done. Given the limited time available, we may not be able to answer all questions during the online webinar, but we will follow up if requested. So with that, that is all the housekeeping guidelines I have for this evening. I am going to turn over
to Melanie Humphrey in our UP District office. Melanie are you there? – [Melanie] Yes I’m here, hello. – [Jim] Melanie, I’m going
to make you the presenter so we can see your screen, and
you can do your presentation. Gotcha.
– Thank you. Thank you Jim, and thanks to all for taking the time to join us tonight. My name is Mel Humphrey, area geologist covering
the Upper Peninsula for the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy,
also known as EGLE. And I’ll be presenting an overview of the mining permit amendment process and proposed decision for
the Back Forty Project located in Menominee County. Beginning with some
background information. the Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division of EGLE administers the
metallic mining regulations of the Natural Resources and
Environmental Protection Act, and as such is responsible for conducting mining permit reviews. A Part 632 Nonferrous
Metallic Mining permit is required for conducting mining and reclamation activities
at the Back Forty Project. After an extensive review by a mining permit
application review team, a permit was issued to Aquila
Resources in December 2016 for the Back Forty Project. First, I’ll be going through the Part 632 amendment process timeline, both in general and specific to the Back Forty Project
amendment application. The review of the amendment request proceeds in parallel with this timeline until making a proposed decision. The timeline for an amendment review under Part 632 begins when
EGLE receives a request to amend a mining permit
submitted by the permitee. For the Back Forty Project, this was received on November 5th, 2018. Within 30 days of receipt,
EGLE must determine whether the proposed amendment constitutes a significant change from the conditions of the approved mining permit. EGLE made a determination
on December 5th, 2018 that this amendment request
is a significant change from the approved mining plan, and that it would
require more than 30 days to complete the review. If determined to be significant, the application review process
proceeds as for a new permit. The request is considered
administratively complete in 14 days after the determination, unless EGLE notifies
the permitee otherwise. The application is posted
on the EGLE website, and copies are provided
at a local public building in the county where the project is located which for the Back Forty Project, is Menominee County Library in Stephenson. EGLE is required to then
hold a public meeting on the amendment request application within 42 days of
determination of significance, which was held on January 9th, 2019 for this amendment request. After the public meeting, written public comments
are accepted regarding the application for 28 days. In response to multiple
requests from the public to extend the written comment period due to technical issues with
accessing application documents on our website and the holidays, EGLE extended the comment
period to 37 days, closing on February 15th, 2019. Once the public comment period closes, EGLE has 28 days to
reach a proposed decision whether to approve the amendment request and to schedule a public hearing
on the proposed decision. Due to an extension of
the technical review and coordination of
permit application reviews and consolidated public hearing, the proposed decision for
the Back Forty amendment was made on May 20th, 2019, and public notice on May 23rd
with notice of public hearing, which is scheduled for the evening of next Tuesday, June 25th, as mentioned. EGLE will accept written
comments regarding the proposed decision for
28 days after the hearing, which expires 5:00 p.m. Eastern
Time Tuesday, July 23rd. Details of how to submit comments
are included in the notice of public hearing that is
posted on the EGLE website, environmental calendar,
and was also posted in local publications including
the Menominee County Journal and Escanaba Daily Press
and will also be provided at the hearing next Tuesday. I’ll briefly summarize
the changes presented in the application and
focus on the major changes and site layout of reclamation
in the following slides. The most insignificant changes from the original mining
permit application include the management of tailings, waste rock, and ore, and the design and site layout for storage facilities to
contain those materials. In other words, the same
materials would be excavated or generated just managed
and stored differently than the original plan. While Part 632 has specific requirements for treatment in
containment of potentially reactive materials, it is possible to meet those requirements utilizing
various technologies and methods that are available. While the amendment
calls for less waste rock and tailings generation due to reduction of the pit area by about six acres, there is an increase in
the overall footprint of the facilities during
operations due to the changes. Another change is a proposed access road to the mining area from
County Road 356 from the east, located along the original
corridor for utilities which would be in addition to access from the west via the River Road. There are also minor modifications to ore processing and surface
facilities configuration, including separate
primary crushing circuits for the two types of
ores and rearrangement of ore processing plants. No changes have been
proposed to the closure and reclamation plants for the pit. And the mining method remains the same, which is surface, or open-pit, mining. The mining plan, and treatment and containment plan contain
the operational changes, and then those changes
result in required updates to environmental monitoring
plan, contingency plan, reclamation plan, financial
assurance estimates, and the environmental impact assessment, as applicable to the proposed amendment. In our view, these
required updates confirm our determination of significance. This slide shows the amended
site layout for the project and it’s from Figure 2-1 in the mining permit
application amendment, and includes location
of the eastern corridor, where the alternative access is proposed, so that’d be right here. The figure was chosen since it shows this area of additional
land in light green that was later required
by Aquila resources, and therefore not available
for the design submitted in the original permit application. The pink outline is the project
boundary of the mining area, and the dashed line represents the mineral property boundary so this wider area. To clarify the surface lands outside of the mining
area, within this boundary may or may not be owned or
controlled by Aquila Resources. So it is the mineral ownership
that that represents. The original site layout
for the waste rock and tailings facility
was limited to the area previously available, and
extended to the northern border of the property boundary,
so extended up to there. The two different types of ore identified for this project require two
different processing plants which are designated in the application as flotation for zinc copper ore and oxide for gold and silver. The processing generates tailings, which are the fraction of material that is not marketable,
and therefore a waste. The original plan design included
two separate storage areas for the two types of tailings
to be contained and co mingled with the layers of waste
rock during development, and reconfigured and capped after the pit was back filled with waste. The amended site layout here shows the tailings management facility, where all the tailings would be deposited and configured for final
closure during operations and excavated waste rock
would be temporarily stored in the northern waste rock facility here, and this other waste rock facility here which represent the full
extent of those facilities, all designed with engineered
systems including fully, all the engineered liner systems including full leak protection. The excavated waste rock
would be temporarily stored in these facilities, this
facility and this facility, and then transferred
to the pit at closure. The excavated ore will
be temporarily stored in lined ore storage areas
located near the pit and mill so here and here. Top soil will be stored in this area. And unconsolidated earth material that’s removed during construction otherwise known as overburden
will be stored here for use in final reclamation. These stockpiles are
required to be stabilized according to the Soil Erosion
and Sediment Control Plan to prevent erosion and
loss of material offsite. Also note that the area
for storage of water that comes into contact
or could potentially come in contact with
tailings, waste rock or ore has increased in size
from the original design. So that’s this contact we’re basing here to take in account the larger footprint. All of the stormwater
from this area is required to be collected and either reused in the process or treated
prior to discharge in the Menominee River as authorized by the National Pollutant
Discharge Elimination System or NPDES permit. So, that’s the treated water line here and outflow to Menominee River. This is from Figure 6-1 of the mining permit application amendment and it is an overview of phase three of the amended reclamation
plan which is that closure. Phase one and two occurred concurrently with operations and includes stabilization and restoration activities for areas not being utilized
during the active mining. Phase three begins at secession of mining. It include removal of facilities and structures in the areas in light green so these areas which are
regraded and re-vegetated. The tailings management
facility is designed as a permanent disposal
facility that would be capped in with multilayered cover
system also re-vegetated. The final footprint for the final disposal of tailing and waste rock so this area has a
reduction of about 24 acres from the original permanent
disposal facility. As previously mentioned
the reclamation plan for the pit is not being amended. Well, the timeline for
review of this amendment proceeded as for a new permit. In reaching a proposed decision
along with the amendment request application and
supporting documents, EGLE took into account
the issued mining permit to determine whether
conditions are still valid or applicable in reference to the changes and updates in the amendment request. As with a new permit, the review timeline of a significant amendment
offers opportunities for public engagement and
participation essential to our review, including
holding a public meeting and comment period early in the process so that public comments
can be incorporated in the review and considered
in permitting decisions. Of course, all information is reviewed in light of the Part
632 statutes and rules that take into account
protection of public health and the environment and the extent to which other permit determinations for protection to natural resources. Based on the information
available to date, EGLE has determined that
the proposed amendment to mining permit MP 01 2016 meets the requirements
of Part 632 for issuance with proposed and additional, additional and revised conditions. New conditions are proposed
for environmental monitoring, contingency, and reclamation plans and some conditions are
proposed to be revised to incorporate new designs
for containment of tailings, waste rock, and ore for consistency with other permits for
environmental monitoring. A proposed decision
document with the details is available on our website and copies will also be made available at the hearing next week. The next step in the process
is the public hearing and written comment period
that expires July 23rd. The hearing and comment
period is an opportunity for public to provide comments
on the proposed decision. Comments received during
this period will be reviewed, summarized in a response
document and those pertaining to the proposed decision
will be considered prior to making a final decision. Details on how to send
comments will be provided at the hearing and are included in the notice of public hearing. And that includes emailing to [email protected] or send to EGLE Marquette
District Office OGMD 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, Michigan 49855. That concludes my presentation and thanks again for showing up tonight. – [Jim] Okay, great, thanks Melanie. I’m going to bring the presentation back to us here in Lansing. And just to remind everybody that Melanie is in our UP Marquette office. So that’s where she’s coming from. I’m going to turn over next, I want to remind everybody
if you do have questions, you tuned in late, you type them into the Go To Webinar question box that you have on your toolbar. And we’ll take all questions
after the presentation. So next up is Andy Drury. So Andy go ahead. – [Andy] All right good evening. Thank you Jim. As Jim said, my name is Andy Drury. I work for the EGLE Air Quality Division. I’m one of the many air quality staff that reviewed the air permit application for the proposed Back Forty project. I’m here to give you a brief overview of the proposed air permit for the project and I will start with a brief overview of the AQD and the air permitting process. Pollution comes from
many different sources such as big farms, fuel burning vehicles, and industrial sources. The overall mission of
the Air Quality Division is to make sure the air
we breathe is clean. We have authority to do this by regulating industrial sources. Some of the things that we do are monitor emissions of air pollutants; examine toxic air contaminants to ensure public health is protected; review applications and write permits to meet regulations; and conduct inspections
of industrial sources of air pollutants. As I said, air pollution comes from many different sources and
the Air Quality Division only has the authority
to regulate and permit industrial sources, such as the proposed Back Forty project. Before I talk about
the Back Forty project, I want to mention a few things the air permit does not cover, and the Air Quality Division
does not have authority over. They are zoning, noise, and traffic. If you have questions or concerns about these different items, you will want to talk directly
to your local government. Now a little bit for
the permitting process. When a company like Aquila Resources decides they want to build a new facility or make changes to the existing facility, state law and the air quality rules require the company to
apply for an air permit. Once the AQD receives the application, it’s assigned to a permit engineer. In the application review,
the permit engineer makes decisions on the proposed project based on the state and
federal regulations. The permit engineer coordinates
with other AQD staff like dispersion modelers
and the district inspector to make sure the proposal
will meet the air regulations. The permit engineer
also writes the proposed permit conditions and discusses them with the AQD inspector, and the company, to make sure the company can
comply with the requirements. Once there is agreement on
the proposed conditions, the public comment process can start. During the public comment process, including at the public hearing, anyone can comment on specific concerns with the proposed permit conditions on any part of the review. For the comments to have an impact on the fate of the proposed permit, they need to be specific
to the draft conditions or application review and not opinions. After the comment period ends, all of the comments are evaluated. A summary of the comments is then provided to the decision maker. In this case, that person
is Mary Anne Dolehanty, the Air Quality Division director. She can approve the permit, approve the permit with
changes, or deny the permit. Some background on air permitting for the Back Forty project. An air permit for the
project was issued in 2016. Due to the changes Aquila
made to the Mine Plan that malaligned, the
project cannot proceed under the existing permit. So Aquila submitted an application for a new air permit in December 2018. So the proposed project. Aquila Resources is
proposing a new open pit mine and ore processing facility. The facility would mine
ore from the open pit and move it to storage files in the process plant using trucks. The ore is very complex, containing several metals Aquila is targeting including zinc, copper, and lead. Which would be produced
as metal concentrates. As well as gold and silver,
which would be produced in the form of mixed gold and
silver bars called a dore. Producing concentrates and
precious metal bars on site produces the amount of material that has to be shipped off
site for further processing. Tailings, the leftover material from processing the ore,
would be disposed of, in the on site tailings disposal facility. So our review of the project, we looked at several
different important items. We reviewed the emission levels to determine how the
facility would be classified. This affected how the
application review was conducted. Based on the emission levels, the facility would be a minor source. More detailed information about this is available on the AQD website. We evaluated the potential emissions and compared them to the
health based standards. All health based standards
are expected to be met. The AQD made sure the proposed project would meet all state and
federal air quality regulations. We also reviewed the
proposed Fugitive Dust Plan to make sure it properly
addresses fugitive emissions. This is important because most emissions from the proposed project are fugitive. And that means that they
don’t come through a stack, they come from storage files, road waste and things like that that are not stack type sources. And the requirements of the
proposed permit conditions would ensure the Back Forty project complies with the air quality regulations. If the permit is issued, Aquila resources must comply with all of
the final conditions. Sources of air emissions at
the facility would include drilling, blasting and handling
ore and development rock in the open pit mine. Temporary storage of mined
ore before it is processed, including dust from wind
blowing over the storage areas. Storage of development rock, including dust from wind blowing
over the storage area. Development rock would
be put back in the pit when the mining is completed. Production of concentrate, including crushing and milling the ore. A mercury retort to remove mercury from the precious metal ore. And a refining furnace to produce the precious metal bars. This equipment would
be electrically heated. The emissions could come from dust blowing off the tailings
disposal facility. Dust from vehicles
traveling on facility roads, two diesel emergency generators used for back up power for the facility, and one diesel powered
emergency fire pump. So will the health based
air quality standards be met under the proposed permit and how do we know that? A computer model was used to estimate the impacts of the proposed emissions on the air quality in the area surrounding the proposed facility. The model looks at many factors, including quantity and type of emissions, prevailing wind direction,
and the facility layout. The model showed that the expected impacts would be less than the applicable National Ambient Air Quality standards for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter less
than 10 microns in diameter, particulate matter less than
2.5 microns in diameter, sulfur dioxide and lead. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards are set by the US EPA to protect human health and the environment. Michigan has developed
health based screening levels for additional pollutants referred to as toxic air contaminants. The proposed toxic air
contaminant emissions from the project would also comply with the AQD’s health based screening levels. The proposed air permit conditions place many restrictions
on the facility operations to ensure all air quality
requirements are met and human health is protected, including visible emission
limits for each dust collector, the mine pit, the on site
roads, ore handling and storage, development rock handling and storage, concentrate handling, and the
tailings disposal facility, as well as particulate emission limits for each dust collector. For the ore processing operations, dust collectors and water sprays are required to control the emissions. Condensers and two stage activated carbon are required to control mercury emissions from the mercury retort. There’s a limit on how much concentrate can be removed from the site each year, and this limits the overall
operation of the facility. Testing emissions from each
dust collector is required. Testing of the mercury
retort activated carbon is required to ensure
it is working correctly. And a fugitive dust plan for the site. The dust control plan
has several requirements to limit the dust emissions
from the facility, including all outdoor
conveyors have to be enclosed, all conveyor transfer
points will be enclosed, minimizing the height that
ore and development rock is dropped from front
end loaders and trucks, dust from the facility
roads will be controlled by applying water and dust suppressant, maintaining a course
aggregate surface on the roads and limiting vehicle speed. More information is available on the AQD’s public comment webpage, including the proposed project summary, the technical fact sheet, the proposed permit conditions, and instructions on how to
submit a written comment. You can go to Michigan.gov/air,
click public notice, under news and info, and then click permit to install available for comment. And that concludes my
presentation thank you. – [Jim] All right thanks Andy. For those of you that might have missed the websites or the links
that we’re providing, I will be following up
with those actual links in an email that’ll go out, and also if you have, if you look
under the Handouts tab, the slide presentations are there with active links that
you’ll be able to click on. Also in there is a frequently
asked questions document that you might want to refer to. So next up is Luke Trumble, Luke go ahead. – [Luke] Thanks Jim,
good evening everyone. My name is Luke Trumble and I work as a dam safety engineer for the EGLE water resources division. I am the lead reviewer
for the current dam safety permit application for the proposed Aquila Resources Back Forty mine project. The following slides will
provide a brief overview of the dam safety regulations as they pertain to the Back Forty project, as well as an update of where we are in the permitting process. For background, my group,
that’s the hydrologic studies and dam safety unit, administers the state’s dam safety statute that’s Part 315, dam safety
of the natural resources and environmental protection act. Part 315 covers a lot
of aspects of dam safety including construction of new dams. Upon completion, two of
the proposed structures associated with the Back Forty project would be regulated as dams under part 315. Those two structures being the tailings management facility and
the contact water basin. You might be wondering
what does dam operations, or what does mining operations
have to do with dams. Most people think of a river or a lake when they think about a dam. But for that answer we
look at the definition of dam under part 315, and that is an artificial barrier including dikes, embankments, and appurtenant works, that impounds, diverts,
or is designed to impound or divert water or a combination of water and any other liquid or
material in that water, that is or will be when complete
six feet or more in height, and has or will have
an impounding capacity at design flood elevation of
five surface acres or more. So anything that holds back water that is six feet high
and creates a water body that is five acres or more is regulated under the dam safety statute. So there are lots of other examples of structures that are built off stream that are regulated dams,
those could include water supply reservoirs,
waste water treatment lagoons, flood control structures and other mine tailings and basins. So when an applicant proposes activities that would impact a regulated dam, a Part 315 permit is required. This slide shows a list of activities related to dams that require a permit. Including as mentioned before
the construction of a new dam, but also the enlargement
of an existing dam or impoundment, repair,
alteration, removal, or abandonment of an existing dam, or reconstruction of a failed dam. Little bit of history on the current Back Forty dam safety permit application. Water Resources Division
received a permit application for the construction of the
tailings management facility and contact water basin
on December 31st, 2018. The application was
placed on public notice on January 29th, 2019. A 20-day public comment
period followed that public notice on January
29th, and a public hearing was requested during that comment period. So in response a
consolidated public hearing with Air Quality Division and Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division is
scheduled for June 25th, 2019. And that’s at the Stephenson High School. So to become a little more familiar with what structure we’re talking about that will be regulated
dams upon construction, the structure outlined
in red on this slide is the tailings management facility. This is a cross section
through that structure. As you’ll see, where the mouse is pointing these gray ovals here
are the perimeter berms constructed of waste rock. This orange shaded area in the center it would be the tailings
that are pumped into the tailings management facility. Upon completion, the
tailings management facility would have a height of 118 feet, an impoundment area of 124 acres, and you can see it’s
constructed in three stages. Or five stages, but three separate lists. The contact water basin
shown on this slide outlined in red is a little bit smaller and it’s to the southwest of the tailings management facility. Here’s a cross section through one of the perimeter
berms of that structure. It’s a little bit different, it’s a little bit smaller. With a height of 27 feet and an impoundment area of 40 acres. You can see from this note here that the film material would be less than 150 millimeters which is
about six inches in diameter. And then from these notes
here on the bottom right, that this would be lined
with a plastic HDPE geomembrane and a geosynthetic clay liner. That’s for waterproofing. So moving forward, the
purpose of the public hearing as it pertains to the Part 315
dam safety permit application is to solicit public comment on the permit application itself. I think it’s important to
make a distinction that, for the other two permits, the amendment to the mining permit and the new air quality permit, what will be commented on is a draft decision by the department. In this case, water resources division has not completed the
review of the application, and we are seeking comment
on that application, and will consider those
comments in making a decision whether to issue or deny a permit. No decisions have been made yet. Application review
criteria under Part 315, so based in part on the information provided by the applicant and in part by the comments we received during the previous 20-day
public comment period and the 10-day public comment period following the hearing
and any comments provided at the hearing, we would
make a determination on the effects of the proposed
project on public health, safety and welfare,
property, natural resources or public trust in
those natural resources, and riparian rights. Then in turn, based on
all of that information including the comments received, WRD would make a decision on whether the proposed activity is
permittable as submitted., the proposed activity is permittable if certain modifications are made, or the proposed activity
is not permittable and cannot be modified to result in the granting of a permit. Well I think that’s it for Part 315. – [Jim] Okay, thanks
Luke, I appreciate that. That concludes our
presentations for this evening. Before we move onto questions and answers, I’m going to launch a quick poll. Basically what we’d like
to know is how many people including yourself are
watching this at your location. What that does is it
gives us a better idea of how many people are
actually viewing this, not just the people logged
in because some of you may be watching it in groups, and it gives us a better count. So if you could take a
minute and just click that. I’d appreciate it. And then we’ll move to questions. If you didn’t catch what I said earlier, there’s a handout in the Handouts tab if you want to download those. They’re available there. So thank you for answering that. Now we’ll go on to questions
and answers session. Just as a reminder for Q&A here, the comments and questions
that you’re submitting during the webinar will not be
part of the official record. If you want your comments to be part of the official record, you have to actually make
them at the public hearing on June 25th or provide written comments using the means that I will show you later on in the meeting here. So with that I’m going to
go to questions and answers and I think the first two, first couple may be for Melanie so I’ll make sure Melanie’s ready in the UP there. The first question is,
in terms of the financial assurances, how much additional assurance will be required specifically
for the TMF design? And TMF, what we mean is
tailings management facility. Which is proposed to use a TMF design currently considered risky by
the global mining industry? So did you catch that Mel? – [Melanie] I did, I
don’t have the specifics. I don’t have the financial
assurance in front of me. It’s in the permit
application that the estimates were reevaluating those
and we’re looking at additional indirect
costs and contingencies and that’s outlined in
the proposed decision. But pretty standard, we’re working with the material management division, and what we look at in
terms of per acreage in order to close a site or cap it, it’s around $100,000 per acre, in general. If you want to close a facility like that. Maybe a little more for landfills considering you have to have degassing. Once again it’s in the
financial assurance estimates are listed in the amendment application. – [Jim] Okay thanks, and I think there’s some information
on financial assurance in the frequently asked
questions document as well. Okay next question. What is the capacity of
the new tailings management facility design compared
with the mine plan? Any wiggle room in case some additional waste storage is needed? Or additional ore is found? As has happened with the Humboldt Mill. – [Melanie] The TMF as far
as, in my understanding, in what has been discussed is that it is only to contain the ore that has from the open pit. It’s designed for specifically
for that filing of tailings. Not any additional. – [Jim] Okay. So the next question is for Andy. Draft permit to install mentions that, some fugitive emissions are exempt related to the facility’s category. Explain in more detail. – [Andy] Okay yeah it’s a little, it’s a little bit complicated. Whether a facility is a major source or a minor source depends
on the potential to emit. And certain sources have to count fugitive emissions in
their potential to emit. Other sources do not. And that list is defined in our rules and in federal regulations
as to what sources do and do not have to count fugitives. The Back Forty project
is not a source category that has to count fugitives,
so they aren’t added to the facility potential to emit. There are some operations at the facility that are exempt from needing a permit, such as the emergency engines, if you notice they don’t show up in the permit conditions. But emissions from all
of the sources on site, whether in the permit or not in the permit are evaluated, and the fugitive dust plan applies to everything at the site, whether it’s permitted or not. So that is basically how that’s handled, even though some emissions may be exempt. We evaluated all of the
emissions in our review. – [Jim] Okay thanks Andy. Next one, facility
redesign has incorporated all tailings into a single facility. But MPDES permit refers
to expected constituents in former segregated facilities. How will this be fixed? Amendment to MPDES coming? And MPDES is a type of
water resources permit. This issue is, I don’t know if Luke or, Adam, anybody have an answer for that one? – Well I think–
– Move a little closer Adam. – [Adam] Unless Melanie
wants to update on this, I would say this is one of those questions that we want to take back to
our water resources division, MPDES folks and get answered, and we can send that back around to the group that’s registered tonight. – [Jim] Mel do you have
anything to add to that? – [Melanie] Even though the tailings will, are going into the same
facility rather than separate, the evaluation for what
those tailings will contain has not changed, so I’m not sure, so whatever’s being
monitored in the standards that are protective to the Menominee river for that discharge, my discussion is that
that would not change. But certainly I think
that it should go back to the water resource
division just to get, if they have any input
on that or if there’s just some kind of a renewal process and I know that those permits, they do need to be removed, they get one every five years but you know that can be discussed with
the water resource division. – [Jim] Yeah thank you for that question. That’s something that we’ll track and will look to get
an answer for that one. The next question for Andy here, air quality draft permit to install, why are no emissions
included for emission unit road segments within the
eastern transportation and utilities corridor? – [Andy] All right the
authority of the air permit applies to everything that’s within site, the facility fence line. So portions of the eastern corridor that are outside of the fence line are not addressed by the permit. At this point in time, I believe that road segment is going
to be public roadway. If that were to change in the future and then gated off at the far end, and if it is only
accessible to Back Forty, we would have to
potentially reevaluate that. But at this point, as far as I know, that’s going to be a public roadway and emissions that
occur on public roadways are not subject to the air permit process. – [Jim] Okay so thank you. Luke, next question for you. Okay dam safety permit, my
water’s public notice package currently contains none
of the application files for the proposed tailings
management facility. Please link to supporting details, list of bunch of different design files, is that something that we
need to add to that, Luke? – [Luke] So sometimes we don’t link all of the application files because the size would be prohibitive to the actual public notice,
but all of those files, those are attachments to the application, are available on MiWaters
through a different avenue, which is the site map explorer. If you go to the MiWaters homepage and click on site map
explorer and just do a search or zoom in on the map to the
Back Forty project location, those should all be linked to the site. The Back Forty site in MiWaters. We can send out some
clarification in email, our email or links to get
you to those documents. But a lot of times when we
have large volume applications what’s included with the public notice isn’t all of the attachments
to the applications here but we can make those available. – [Jim] Yeah thanks Luke, that
sounds a little complicated so I’m going to ask
you to send me the link and I’ll send it out to all the attendees and make sure it’s clear and accessible. Another dam question, dam safety permit, how many Michigan tailing
dams are permitted under Part 315? Of these how many are
using the upstream design? – [Luke] Sure, I don’t have the exact figures in front of me. There are several other
tailings management facilities tailings basins permitted as dams, the ones that I can think
of off the top of my head in the UP are all using
upstream design method, including the iron mines and H trimming and Copperwood, I believe
is also using upstream. So I don’t have the exact figures, I can get those if they’re needed but there are several others
using this design approach that have been permitted. – [Jim] Okay. – [Melanie] Just to
clarify Copperwood actually was a downstream design
and it’s not active at the Copperwood mine, that’s, they received their
amendment to their permit but it’s not active. Maybe you were thinking
about White Pine, perhaps? – Perhaps.
– Okay. – [Jim] All right, thanks Mel. Sorry about that, if you
need to make comment, go ahead and just break in there. Okay another question for you Luke. Dam safety permit mentions
an emergency spillway that could divert tailings or pond water into the mine pit. Obviously that would only work
for the first seven years. Explain if an emergency spillway will be available after that and
how it would function. – [Luke] Sure. The emergency spillway is a design feature incorporated into both the
tailings management facility and the contact water basin. And the purpose would
be for if a large storm were to happen, a lot of rainfall, and the tailings management facility or contact water basin would be overcome. Water would not then
flow over the embankment and cause erosion and
potential down cutting and uncontrolled release and failure of the embankment would be channelized through the emergency spillway safely to the mine pit. So rather than causing
large scale failure, it would just bleed off
the excess water basically. So after closure, the
tailings management facility will be capped, it will
be completely de-watered and capped, so the tailings
would be consolidated and will be like a
soil, like a silty sand. And will be capped with
an impervious liner, vegetated cover, et
cetera, so it wouldn’t be regulated as a dam anymore. There would be no impoundment, per se. All the water would be drained out and there would be no need
for an emergency spillway. And it’s my understanding
that the contact water basin also after mining operations cease will be deconstructed as well. When there’s no longer an impoundment, no longer six feet of height, there’s no longer regulated dam, no longer a need for
an emergency spillway. – [Jim] Okay, stay there Luke. Regarding the dam safety permit deadline, can it please be slightly extended to match the public comment deadlines for the mine permit amendment and air quality permit to install? The dam safety deadline is July 5th and the other two are July 23rd. – [Luke] Sure, so, first statute, the comment
period is held open an additional 10 days following a hearing. So if you’re talking about
the public comment period to become a part of the official record, I believe that closes for statue
10 days after the hearing. I don’t know if we have
the ability to extend that, I would have to check into that. I will accept, unofficially
accept comments pertaining to, if there’s
something pertinent to the review under Part 315
that we need to consider, you can get those to me, that’s fine. But if you’re talking about
the permit decision deadline, I believe that’s already
been extended into August while we work through any remaining issues or concerns with the technical
design of the structures. – [Jim] Okay yeah I wasn’t sure if we were referring
to the permit decision or the comment deadline ’cause they’re different, okay, thanks. I’ve been looking at the dam permit and none of the supporting documents appendices, et cetera
seem to be available. Will they be made available
prior to the public hearing? – [Luke] I think we covered it, they are available now, it’s just through a different avenue. We’ll get the details out shortly. – [Jim] Sure. What is the estimated life expectancy of the liners in the tailings facilities? Anybody have an answer for that one? – [Marjorie] Yeah, this
is Marjorie Raymond with materials management division. They’re proposing to use HDPE liners in the tailings management facility. That’s a plastic material. When varied as it will be in this design, it has a half life of about 450 years. Half life means that’s
about the point where the liner starts to degrade,
but it’s still intact. So it does have a significant lifespan. – [Jim] Okay thanks, and
we didn’t introduce Margie at the beginning, she’s with our materials management
division here at EGLE. Okay next question. How tall was the old tailings facility compared to the new one? Now Mel do you have an
answer for that one? – [Mel] Yeah, let me,
so you’re talking about the tailings facility? – Yes.
– Okay. So the tailings facility was called the tailings waste drop
management facility, or the TWRMF in the original application, and that was about 70
meters maximum height. We configured maximum height was 131. So that would’ve been after closure, after it was halved. The 131 feet, sorry not meters. I’m kind of jumping my,
going back and forth my units there, but so
131 feet, maximum height. And then the maximum
height for the tailings management facility in the amendment is about 138 feet, so it’s
pretty close to the same, likely higher. – [Jim] Okay. Luke, dam safety permits slideshow on your slides, you mentioned
the height of the dam, where did this number come from? The permit states 42 meters at closure, 137.79 feet on clear. – [Luke] Sure so I think
the confusion comes from height as defined by Part 315 versus height of the overall
structure upon closure. There is a cap that goes on. I think when I estimated the height for the purpose of these slides, I took the top of the
final width of the berm, to the lowest adjacent
grade around the structure. So that’d be the lowest
natural ground level next to the tailings management facility and to the top of the berm and that was the figure that I gave,
I believe 118 feet. Once the tailings management
facility is de-watered, no longer regulated as a dam and closed with a cap and vegetative cover, that final elevation will be something higher than that. So while regulated at
315, the height would be about 118 feet. – [Jim] Okay thanks Luke. For the air quality permit to install, the water used for dust control would be coming from groundwater, well, or from recycled water? Treated wastewater discharge? – [Luke] That is a good question. I don’t know the exact source of the water that they’re going to
use for dust control. Some of it within the
middle is going to be their fresh make up water, the key is that their water can’t add air pollution, it can’t add things to the
air that we haven’t looked at. We can ask the company
what they plan to use and it may vary by location. Whether they have treated water available or if it’s going to be well water. So we can make a note and
ask them that question. – [Jim] Yeah thanks Andy it’s a good thing to make a note of. Here’s another one. I’m not really sure who
this one would be for. So we’ll have to figure that out. Doesn’t all the additional
facts of the proposed road need to be
calculated, the e-corridor? Will have added effects,
especially wetlands, carbonated exhaust, is this something after they get the
permit as a public road, they can then make private
perhaps with another amendment? So I don’t know if that would be related to air quality Andy. – [Andy] It probably overlaps
with 632 and air quality. From an air quality standpoint, if it’s a public roadway,
we have no jurisdiction to evaluate that in the air permit. We have no authority to look at that. Engine emissions are regulated by EPA, through their engine and fuel standards. Industrial and road, it’s
just going to be local soil, there’s not going to be a metal content like there is with the ore,
that we’d be concerned about. And I don’t know Mel if
this is part of your overall kind of environmental impact
to it or not, I don’t know. And if there’s any wetland impact, that would have to be addressed through a wetland permit having some… – [Mel] Yeah that is correct. I believe they submitted a… It’s actually not with
water resource division hitting a wetland delineation. They did a wetland
delineation in that area for that corridor, and the Part 632, it’s been determined
in past decisions that transportation outside of the mining area is not regulated by Part 632. And transportation,
specifically of concentrate or reagents and traffic into the mine is not regulated by Part 632. But however, if it is a private road, if it’s gated off as Andrew said before, we may have to reevaluate that, in terms of closure, what occurs… – [Jim] Yes, so that part
of that question was, is this something that
after they get the permit as a public road, they
can then make private? Perhaps with another amendment. Is that, what’s the answer for that? Mel do you have an answer for that one? – [Mel] I’d have to look at that. I think if it’s a private
road, and it’s gated off, then the gate becomes, that gets moved out so we’d have to evaluate
what that would mean for the mining area and
how that would be defined. – [Jim] Okay, I’m going to
ask this other question too, ’cause it directly relates to what we’re just talking about right now, from a person says, Part 632 expressly includes transportation and utility corridors
as mining activities. Why is the Eastern transportation utilities corridor not included? – [Mel] Eastern corridor
isn’t part of the mining area, isn’t defined as part of the mining area and also mining activities
include transportation of ore, and waste rock and those materials. And of course outside of the mining area, once you leave, that would be,
that truck traffic would be, ore is not, ore and waste rock are not leaving the mining area. – [Jim] Okay. Is the Humboldt Mill’s
pit considered a dam? Luke! – [Luke] So, I’m not super familiar, with the Humboldt Mill
pit, but just by the name, I would venture to guess that’s no so, in order to be regulated as a dam, the height of a dam, that
six feet height requirement, would imply that it would
be above natural grade, or above the adjacent ground level. So it would have to be built
to store water or liquid, above the adjacent ground level. So if that is an excavated mine pit, which I expect it is, what’s
not surrounded by a berm, that would keep water
above the ground level, I would say it’s most likely not a dam. – [Jim] Okay, this one maybe
for Adam too, I’m not sure. Aquila recently put out a press release to local broadcasts and print media, stating that they now have all permits and they will begin mining in 2020. Isn’t this fraud, perhaps
with the intention of defrauding their investors? Do you want to address
that, either Mel or Adam? – [Adam] Yeah, I can address that. I think the press release that was put out caused a fair amount of confusion. Perhaps implied that they cleared all their regulatory
hurdles, received all permits that were going to be necessary. That’s obviously not the case. Part of this process here, we’re reviewing one permit amendment, we’re
reviewing two other permits for quality and dam safety. They have two permits that are
currently being challenged, one our original mining
permit was challenged. There was a administrative
law judge decision that has now been appealed. Not speculating on what fraud or intent, or how it might have been misconstrued, but I just want to let
the public know that, it’s not the case, from the
perspective of the department. There’s additional
permits that are required. There’s a couple ongoing contested cases that I really can’t discuss. And also it’s important
to note that by statute, under 632, that any required permit under the Natural Resource,
Environmental Protection Act, Act 451, has to be obtained
before 632 permit’s ultimately effective so, I think there was just a
lot of confusion around that and hopefully that helps. – [Jim] Okay, thanks Adam. We’re approaching our
seven o’clock deadline, but we’re going to keep it
open for a little while longer because we still do have some questions we want to get answered here. So we’re going to stick
around for a little bit. How many years, from end of mining and after draining of the
tailings and management facility, will the tailings manager
facility be covered or no longer a dam? – [Luke] So I think this,
I don’t have an exact number of years, but I think we look back to the definition of a dam is that, the structure would have to impound or have the capacity to
impound water or liquid. So I would think at some point when the construction is complete and the facility is full of tailings, there is, that will
start a time clock where, the tailings are being de-watered. There’ll be draining
and then at some point there will no longer be a liquid. There will be a solid, and they wouldn’t meet the definition, at that point, it’ll probably be decommissioned
as a regulated dam and then with the closure,
the post-closure with the cap and protective vegetative
cover and all that stuff, there would be very little ability for any water to infiltrate
back into the facility and allow for the tailings
to act as a liquid again. I don’t know exactly
how many years that is but at some point, following closure, there would not be a dam anymore. – [Mel] And, I can add to that. This is Mel. One thing is required in Part 632, is a minimum of a 20-year post-closure monitoring after approval, of
that reclamation is complete. And then, when it’s 20 years, they can apply for, to be released from
that post-closure requirement but only if it’s determined that, it’s going to be based on water quality and the monitoring that was done thus far. It can be extended up 20-year increments beyond that and once again
it has to be determined that there’s no water
quality issues at that point. – [Jim] Okay, thanks. Next question goes back
to the liner question we had earlier, maybe
Margie can help answer this. HDPE was only invented in the 1950s, how can the liner lifetime
be hundreds of years? – [Margie] Okay, this is Margie. There’s been a lot of study done on the chemistry of these liners, that HDPE is high density polyethylene, it is configured with antioxidants and carbon black and other chemicals. There’s been a lot of
research on how long it takes the antioxidants to degrade or oxidize and the effect of that
on the plastic material and the resins, and
they’ve extrapolated out based on their knowledge of the chemistry and how it interacts over time. There’s been a number of studies. I could provide a link to a recent one done by the Geomembrane
Research Institute, if you’re interested in
all the science behind it. But it’s based on studies of the material. – [Jim] Okay, thanks Margie. Andy, recent review of
risky upstream tailing dams used worldwide, a major company, PHP, stated that most tailing
dams are made higher through revisions and additional
raises of the dam walls. – [Andy] Sure! So I think, I’m not clear
what the question is but if there were any future
wishes to increase elevation that would come under a separate permit, application, from a dam safety standpoint and undergo the same review
as your technical review for stability and safety
and as is the case with this permit, if it’s not deemed that this would be a safe design, a permit would not be issued,
so I can’t speak to past or other areas where
regulations might be different but in Michigan, that’s how
hypothetically it would work. – [Jim] Okay, thanks. Mel this might be for you. Part 632 expressly includes transportation and utility corridors
as mining activities. Oh I’m sorry, I already asked that one. We already went through that one, I meant to skip over it. So why are these part, next one. Why are these permits even considered before the company applies for and obtains the lake townships,
special land use permit, wherein the process of following 632, that does not require the applicant to follow local ordinances. Does the company have to get,
lake townships ordinance? – [Adam] Okay, I’ll take that one Jim. The township does have an ordinance related to mining and as Andy said, 632 and our other permits,
don’t address certain aspects, noise, truck traffic,
some of those aspects and when you look at
zoning what’s preempted by state level, who’s
occupying higher spaces of regulatory authority, all those things, that gets very, very muddy. So what I’ll say is, a
company has got a right to come to the DEQ or EGLE, sorry I’m going to get
docked for that one, come to EGLE for their required permits. There’s nothing in our statutes that would force them
to obtain local zoning ahead of ours, so having said that, if there’s a valid
zoning at a local level, that the township has
lawful right to enforce. That’s a separate process,
a separate requirement that companies got to
meet and I would say that, the vast majority of our permits and Mel can tell me but we often specifically state in our permits that our permits don’t obviate the necessity for other required state,
local or federal permits. – Okay, thanks–
– I believe the air permit is the same thing. The air permit, it says the same thing that the air permit does not excuse you from the requirement to
obtain other approvals. – [Jim] All right thank you. Next one. How does the tailings management facility at Back Forty, differ from those that have recently failed in Brazil? – [Luke] I think there’s
a lot of differences in the proposed, the structure, the soils, the soils are different
and from what I understand about the Brazil failure,
those were granular material. The perimeter berms that,
the proposed Back Forty tailings management facility of waste rock which is a larger rock
material, with varying sizes. There’s I think height and size are quite a bit different,
but there’s numerous. Each dam, each tailing facility is going to be different
with a unique set of, geo-technical concerns, which is the study that the soils and the stability so, there’s numerous differences. The overall goal obviously,
of our permit application with the dam safety
permit application review, would be to ensure that the soils and the configuration that is proposed is safe in both the short
term and the long term. – [Jim] Okay, thanks Luke. This next one kind of
long, and it’s for Andy. Some of the permit documents
refer to the Eastern road as an alternative. In terms of emissions for road segments, the proposed Eastern
gate appears to be closer to the truck loading facility, than the river road access point. If the desired eastern
access road is not built, it seems there will be more
fugitive and track emissions due to longer distances from
moving the loaded trucks through the mine site. If that is the case, there
would be higher emissions for those roads. Does the air permit consider this? – [Andy] All right, you are correct that if they don’t get
the eastern corridor, they will have more
vehicle miles traveled, we call it on site. That is not considered in the air permit because they applied, assuming they have the eastern corridor, if they don’t get that, then
they’re going to have to come back and change their plan which may involve changing their permit. So we haven’t evaluated that at this time, because it’s not what they proposed doing but if they can’t build
the eastern corridor, then we’re going to have to
take another look at that and that may apply for
the mining permit as well, the 632 permit, I don’t know, al the details on that but, yeah. – [Jim] All right, so we’re getting close to the end of our questions here. Just want to remind you,
if you have questions, please try to get them in now, because we’re getting
close to wrapping that up. Another one for you Andy here. The air permit and mining permits revised, environmental impact assessment, both rely on the air deposition analysis, which was revised at the end of 2018, which shows alarming mercury deposition. 21% increase over baseline, is anticipated for
mercury in a nearby lake, which is already considered
impaired for mercury. Is that protective of natural resources? – [Andy] It’s really actually a question for our toxicologist, who
wasn’t able to be with us. For the air permit,
the deposition modeling is not part of the air permit. Air quality staff are doing it because we have the expertise, but it’s being done under
the authority of Part 632. And I know, I just talked with Mike Deppa, our toxicologist today, he’s working on finalizing his report, his evaluation of the deposition modeling. Aquila provided their report
and did their modeling. We have worked on verifying that and I don’t know where he stands on that but I think we’re hoping
to have that posted online before the hearing next week. So I don’t know if you have
anything to add to that, Mel. – [Mel] That’s my understanding as well. I’ve talked to Mike quite a bit, he doesn’t think based on the emissions dispersion that it’s going
to be a measurable impact but his evaluations
should be going out soon. – [Jim] Thanks, so with
that toxics evaluation, once it is available, where
is it going to be located so people can find it? Is it going to be at the site that we refer them to in the notice? – [Andy] It would be on the 632 site, where they’ve got all their documents. – [Jim] But with the
air quality permit page, it won’t be there?
– No, it’s not part of the air permit.
– Okay, so it’ll be part of the 632 page. I’ll show you all where that can be found at the end of the webinar. – [Andy] Yeah, it is confusing. Air staff are doing the evaluation but we’re doing it for Part 632. – [Jim] Yeah, it’s a little confusing. All right, looks like this might be our last question here. The air permit to install
shows higher levels of arsenic and the potential to emit. Higher than screening levels, is it safe. – [Andy] Based on the
dispersion modeling that we did, the arsenic meets the
secondary risk screening level. So it does meet the
health-based requirement. I’ll point out that the metals analysis is pretty conservative. Back Forty evaluated all
of the different ore types and they took the 95th percentile, concentration of metals in any of the ores and assumed that that
applies to all of the ore. So some ore types will
have more than others but they’ve taken the, kind
of the high end estimate and applied it to all of the ore. So I would not expect the arsenic or any of the emissions to be as high as was estimated in the calculations. But based on the modeling that we’ve done, the arsenic does meet the screening level. Which by the way is a
lifetime exposure number. So that number is based on a person exposed to that for 70 years. And this is a much shorter time frame. – [Jim] Okay! Thanks Andy. That looks like it
wraps up our question… So I think, oh got one more here, I don’t know if I could
read this question, I don’t understand it, Wisconsin– – [Luke] Maybe I should, Will? – [Jim] Okay, Will. Thank you for [mumbles] apology, I’m trying to read these as they come in. Will gossan be shipped whole? – [Mel] Gossan, G-O-S-S-A-N? – [Jim] Correct yes. – [Mel] No, it will be processed through the as I mentioned
on my presentation the oxide plant, so that
would be the process for, it’ll go out the golden, in a
golden-silver dore it’s called so like a bar. – [Jim] Okay, she is
referring to as described in the original mine permit. So I don’t know if the
original mine permit said it’d be shipped whole or not but… – [Mel] No that was not part
of the original plan here. – [Jim] Okay, thank you. You guys all had a lot of great questions. Thank you for getting ’em in to us. I want to gore a few wrap up things before we tune out today. Couple things, recording. We are recording this webinar, just like we did the one yesterday, and they’re both going to be posted on our YouTube channel. And I hope to get those out very soon. As soon as those recordings are available, I will send you all, anybody that registered for the webinar, for this meeting, an email to let you know where and when you can find those. So be on the lookout fairly soon for email from me, to get those. Just a reminder that the public hearing is on June 25th, that’s
the actual public hearing, if you want to make
official public comments. It’s June 25th, from 5:30 to
nine o’clock p.m. Central Time. That’s in the Stephenson
High School gymnasium, so that’s where you can do that. Awaiting comments, on
for the various permits we discussed today. They have a couple different deadlines, so written comments
for the water resources dam safety permit. I have got to get into us by July 15th and I will include the link there on how you submit
comments for that permit. Air quality permit comments
have to be in by July 23rd. Again, there’s the link for submitting air quality permits as well as you can find information
related to this there. And July 23rd is also the deadline for submitting comments for the minerals and mining permit amendment, and there’s the email actually right there that you use to submit
comments for that one. So that’s where you’ll
find all that information. If you remember, under the Handouts tab, there is a frequently asked
questions document so, there’s a lot of there questions that we’ve received in the
past where people might have, check that document
out, ’cause it gives you a lot of more details on this. I will be following up
with an email to you all that’s going to include, I’ll
send out the documents again for you all in case you missed ’em as well as some contact
information, other details. I think Luke was going to get back to us on those additional
documents that will be posted in MiWaters. And I think that’s about it. So, I want to thank the team
here for great presentations and for the Q&A we had and thank you all for for sticking with us and answering some really good que, or for asking some really
good questions tonight. I hope you all get a
chance to get out there, enjoy a nice day. Thank you all for joining us.

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