Staff at a state land-use agency have recommended against rezoning 528 acres near Baxter State Park to allow the state’s first large-scale metal-mining operation in decades, saying the Canadian company’s proposal is riddled with mistakes.

Ontario-based Wolfden Resources petitioned the Land Use Planning Commission last year to rezone the land on Pickett Mountain outside Patten so it could mine for copper, zinc, silver and other metals. The tract is also near Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.

Since January 2020, the commission, which oversees planning and development on Maine’s 10 million acres of unincorporated lands, and Wolfden have gone back and forth on the proposal, but Thursday – seven months after the company was asked to update its petition for the fourth time – commission staff recommended it be rejected.

“Staff have identified 59 inconsistencies, errors and failures to provide information” requested by the commission, the staff analysis said.

“As a result of these deficiencies, it is the staff’s opinion that scheduling a public hearing on this petition within the time required by the LUPC’s rules (45 days) would not assist the commission in reaching its decision,” the analysis states. “The state of the petition is such that a hearing would need to focus on the petition’s numerous errors, inconsistencies, and omissions instead of a substantive review of the petition relative to the criteria for the zoning decision.”

The commission is scheduled to meet virtually Wednesday to decide whether Wolfden’s petition can proceed.

Environmental groups have opposed the plan. The Natural Resources Council of Maine, one of its most vocal opponents, warned that mining could cause permanent damage to natural resources just east of Baxter State Park, potentially poisoning streams, lakes and groundwater with toxic wastewater.

“The biggest thing from the start is that Wolfden claims that they can discharge wastewater that is as clean as water on the site and that’s just not true,” said Nick Bennett, staff scientist at the NRCM. “There is no mine, no hard rock mine on the planet that can do that.”

A massive sulfide deposit was discovered in 1979 by the Getty Mining Co., a division of Getty Oil, at Pickett Mountain. Wolfden describes the sulfide deposit as one of the highest grade undeveloped sites in North America.

Staff Writer Kevin Miller contributed to this report


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