A proposed mining project in Northern Penobscot County has cleared its first steps with the state's Land Use Planning Commission.
Ontario-based Wolfden Resources Corporation is applying for a zoning change on more than 500 of the 6,800 acres it owns around Pickett Mountain near Patten, potentially putting the company on the road to the state's first metallic mining operation since the 1970s.
But Maine conservationists are questioning why the LUPC is moving ahead with the application process, when basic aspects of the project remain unclear.
"If somebody's going to mine in Maine, they'd better do it right. This company is not indicating that it can do this job well," says Nick Bennet, a staff scientist with the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Bennet says that amongother issues, Wolfden has not demonstrated that it has a plan to safely handle contaminated wastewater generated from the processing of ore. Bennett says due to limitations at the site, a mine would need to treat wastewater to the point that it could be released safely back into the ground.
"LUPC has asked Wolfden for an example of a mine that can do that. We have asked Wolfden for an example of a mine that can do that. They have not provided any of that."
Maine Public’s attempts to reach Wolfden Resources were not successful, but according to a project update posted on its website Tuesday, Wolfden officials say they are "encouraged" by exploration results to date, and drilling in new areas is planned for the fall. The company is hoping to resurrect mining in the area for zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold.
Next steps would include a public hearing on the zone change petition, which officials say would likely take place in December. The project would still face further hurdles in attaining a permit to mine.