DNR Press Release:
Following a recommendation from Department of Natural Resources officials, DNR Director Keith Creagh announced today his approval of a land transaction proposal from Graymont, Inc. Creagh announced his decision at today’s Natural Resources Commission meeting in Roscommon, Michigan.
Graymont is planning a limestone mining operation in the Upper Peninsula’s Mackinac County, near the town of Rexton. The company will have to comply with all applicable state and local regulations before mining can occur.
In January DNR officials identified several concerns with Graymont’s proposal and recommended against its approval by the director. In response to those concerns, Graymont revised its application to the state. As a result of those revisions and the recommendation from DNR officials, Creagh approved the transaction.
The director’s decision follows an extensive review process that included broad public input and comment, tribal consultation and engagement with local units of government, as well as a thorough environmental and legal review.
“This project balances the public interest in natural resources and economic development in the Upper Peninsula,” Creagh said. “By moving forward with this transaction, we are providing the opportunity for the development of a limestone mine in an area that has a long history of mining, and we are also ensuring that recreational opportunities continue on these lands.”
The details of the transaction include:
- The direct sale of approximately 1,781 acres of state-owned land and 7,026 acres of mineral rights to Graymont.
- A land exchange whereby Graymont will acquire approximately 830 acres of state-owned land.
- A 10-year option secured by Graymont to acquire an easement over a maximum of 55 acres of state-owned land within an identified area of 535 acres.
The total value of land rights involved in this transaction – including land value, timber consideration, and non-limestone and dolomite mineral rights – is more than $4.5 million. Revenue received from the land sale will be used to purchase other public lands. Graymont will pay a royalty on the extracted limestone and dolomite at a rate of 30 cents per ton. This rate will rise as based on the Producer Price Index but it will not go below the 30-cents-per-ton rate. Royalty payments will go into the State Parks Endowment Fund for operations and maintenance at Michigan state parks.
The agreement with Graymont provides for continued public access on portions of the land acquired by the company that are not being used for active mining or for the development of a processing plant. In addition, the state will continue to own and manage the surface of the 7,026-acre underground mine.
The March proposal provided additional detail and assurances needed for DNR officials to support the project and recommend approval to the director. Among these changes: permanent trail easements, which may be relocated at Graymont’s expense; protection of a sensitive bog wetland on the property; DNR and public involvement in the review of future mining and reclamation plans; and mitigation of potential impacts to a neighboring veterans facility.
In addition, to ensure economic benefit to the region, the company has agreed to create a regional economic development fund. Graymont will deposit a minimum of $100,000 annually into this fund for a minimum of five years. The fund will continue until a processing facility is constructed in Mackinac County. The fund will support small business development, schools, human services, road and infrastructure improvements, conservation and recreational opportunities and health and wellness.
“The many public comments we received regarding this proposal have helped shape positive changes to the initial land transaction application we received from Graymont,” said Creagh. “Because of those changes, the final proposal resolves many issues and improves the outcome for Michigan citizens.”
The DNR will work with Graymont to complete the sale of the 1,781 acres. Graymont will identify specific lands to be offered in exchange for the 830-acre parcel. These parcels will be thoroughly reviewed by DNR staff and will be available for public review and comment prior to the director making a decision about the acceptance of these parcels.
For more information, including maps of parcels included in the land transaction, visit www.michigan.gov/graymontproposal.