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Wolfden says northern Maine mining operation could generate nearly 300 jobs

Pickett Mountain and Pickett Mountain Pond.
Maine Land Use Planning Commission via BDN
Pickett Mountain and Pickett Mountain Pond.

The Canadian mining company that's asking state regulators to rezone nearly 400 acres in northern Penobscot County for a metallic mineral mining operation estimates the project will create 272 local jobs over a 10-15 year period.

Under an extension from state regulators, the mining company submitted more details late last week about the number of jobs, traffic going to and from the project site, and its plans for discharging mine and storm water.

According to Wolfden's latest submission, the project, which calls for the mining of Pickett Mountain for zinc, copper and other metals, employees would consecutively work seven days at the mine, with seven days off. Most employees would work for Wolfden, while a smaller number would work as contractors.

The prospect of adding nearly 300 local jobs is a top consideration for many of those who have already shared feedback with the Land Use Planning Commission about the project. Several people said the region needs an economic boost, and they're eager to put Maine's mining regulations and environmental standards, seen as the strictest in the nation, to the test.

"We all love northern Maine and don't want to see any negative environmental impact, but isn't this why our tax dollars were spent on five years of rewriting the mining regulations to make them the strictest in the country?" Randy Bossie of Patten wrote to the LUPC. "If Wolfden can meet or exceed the regulatory standards, then why is this even a question? The Patten area needs it, and the country needs the metals it would produce."

But a few others, including some who described themselves as retirees with camps close to the proposed project site or plans to move to the region, said they fear the project will damage nearby natural resources and the region's reputation as a destination for environmental tourism.

With a delay in providing additional information, LUPC staff are expected to spend the next several months ensuring Wolfden's application is ready for review by other state agencies. Public hearings, according to the LUPC's revised timeline, could start in July.

A decision on rezoning may not occur until the end of this year or early next.

It's not the first time that Wolfden Resources Corp. has approached state officials with a proposal to rezone land near Patten, and mine Pickett Mountain for zinc, copper and other metals.

The company submitted a rezoning petition to the Land Use Planning Commission two years ago but withdrew it rather than risk rejection due to errors in the application. The previous attempt sparked concern from environmental groups, tribes in Maine and others.