Upper Peninsula nickel, copper mine seeks lease of state land for further mineral exploration

IndustriesAssociated Press

A company operating a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula wants to lease an additional 40 acres of state land to explore additional mining opportunities.

Eagle Mine's request to the Department of Natural Resources targets a parcel about 2 miles west of the existing mine in Marquette County.

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Spokesman Matt Johnson told The Mining Journal of Marquette (http://bit.ly/1KVIAOF ) the company needs further exploration to understand the Eagle ore body and nearby geology. He added that the parcel was recently released by an exploration company, so Eagle Mine picked it up.

An environmental coalition called Save the Wild U.P. said the parcel is part of a sensitive wetlands complex forming the headwaters of the Yellow Dog River, and is surrounded by historic sites. The group wants the DNR to reject the lease.

"They are treasured places and integral parts of our communal history," said Alexandra Maxwell, the group's interim director.

Karen Maidlow, property specialist with the DNR, said the recommended lease classification for the parcel is "Development with Restriction." That classification allows for some level of surface use with specific restrictions because of environmental or other surface feature conditions.

A 30-day period for sending comments to the agency ends Aug. 26. If all approvals are received from various state committees and boards, the lease would be issued by mid-October.

Eagle is owned by Lundin Mining Corp. of Toronto.