Jeff Swallow, left, and Tyler Snelgrove with Downing Drilling of Quebec prepare to restart the drill while working near Pickett Mountain north of Patten on March 7, 2018. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

HOULTON, Maine — A week after withdrawing its rezoning application from Maine’s Land Use Planning Commission, Wolfden Resources talked to Penobscot County officials about plans for Pickett Mountain mining — a sign the company has no plans to hang up the project just yet.

Representatives from the Canadian mining company met Oct. 19 with Penobscot County commissioners. Jeremy Oullette, Wolfden’s vice president for project development, presented further plans for the Pickett Mountain project.

The company’s quest for a mining permit has been hampered by requirements to prove its wastewater treatment will work. Ouellette told commissioners Wolfden is working to demonstrate that its first-of-its-kind method is effective at reducing environmental danger.

Controversy has arisen in the past about the environmental impact of wastewater treatment from mineral mining, as well as statements by Wolfden’s CEO about indigenous rights in the state.

Oullette said regulations from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which issues mining permits, ensured that Wolfden would be obligated to prevent environmental harm.

“With the extremely strict guidelines under the new legislation, there is no harm to the surrounding environment,” he said. “We have to discharge water at or better than the background water quality. We have to ensure that the air quality isn’t impacted.”

Before Wolfden can obtain a mining permit, it must first have a rezoning permit from the LUPC, which so far has been unsuccessful. The company submitted a revised application to the commission in September, but voluntarily withdrew that application. The LUPC had planned to deny approval because Wolfden needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that its planned wastewater treatment would work.

When commissioners asked about the withdrawal, Ouellette acknowledged the difficulties in proving the efficacy of the wastewater treatment, because the methods had not been previously attempted anywhere else in the world with such strict laws. But, he said, Wolfden is working on producing its own wastewater to demonstrate how the cleaning process would work.

“We’re going to produce the water that will be produced on site, and then we’re going to treat it, and prove for a fact that we can treat it,” he said. “We’re going to give [the LUPC] everything they need with our next petition submission.”

Wolfden’s proposed mine would be over 600 acres in northern Penobscot, close to the border with Aroostook County and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.