Mining for taxes

Michigan State Roundup

Published May 1, 2005  | May 2005 issue

The proposed sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains in Marquette County has generated a storm of controversy over environmental effects, but one thing all sides have agreed upon is that the mine would bring local economic benefits in the form of tax revenue. Now some officials are beginning to doubt that.

The site is estimated to hold 5 million tons of nickel, copper and gold that might be worth up to $3 billion. In theory, this could double Marquette County's taxable value. However, that theory is contingent upon the mine being taxed in a straightforward way. If the state grants exemptions, or if there are other loopholes, the tax windfall will not be so great. It is also not yet clear how the state geologist will evaluate what part of the property is being mined.

The Marquette County treasurer, who has been researching the tax effects of the mine, is not convinced it will create a tax windfall because of these uncertainties. The county board has requested that the state clarify its taxation formula.

Joe Mahon