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Board receives mine inspector annual report

MARQUETTE — The annual mine inspector’s report was given at the Marquette County Board of Commissioners’ meeting April 3.

John Carlson, Marquette County mine inspector, presented an inactive mine inspection report from RGGS, Land & Minerals LTD LP. RGGS personnel had performed inspections on abandoned mines and pits owned by RGGS in November.

Carlson explained that RGGS has been working with him for years to perform the inspections on their properties.

The report notes fence repairs and tree removal were performed by RGGS at multiple abandoned mines and pits.

But after looking at the RGGS report, which listed 28 inactive mines and pits, the board asked why some entries in the report had “OK” next to them, while others did not.

Carlson said at the board meeting he was unsure why, but later — after contacting RGGS personnel who conducted the inspections — he explained the 10 abandoned mines and pits without “OK” next to them had not been inspected.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the board, county board Chairman Gerald Corkin presented a letter received from RGGS employee Larry Lindholm regarding the matter.

“The mines not updated on the list were not inspected in November, 2017,” Lindholm’s letter states. “RGGS is not aware of any issues with any of the mines in Marquette County at this time. As always, if you find any problems with any RGGS mine fencing in the County, please let us know.”

In past years, Carlson said he had a close working relationship with the individual who performed the assessments and had regular communication about the annual inspections performed by RGGS, Carlson said.

However, this person recently retired, Carlson said, and different RGGS employees performed the inspections in 2017.

Carlson said that RGGS had consistently communicated with him about the inspections and their results in past years. He assumed things were taken care of this year because he had not heard otherwise from RGGS, he said.

Officials said the county does not pay RGGS to do these inspections and Carlson, as mine inspector, is ultimately responsible for ensuring the inspections have been completed. Carlson will complete the remaining inspections in coming months, at no additional expense to the county, officials said.

Most of the abandoned mines and pits that were not inspected are in the National Mine area. Those include the Section 21 Mine, the West Shaft, the No.1 Shaft, the No. 2 Shaft, the Exploration Shaft and the Goodrich Mine.

Others not inspected include Gibson Mine, located in the Champion area, as well as the Wicks Mine, Richards Mine and an unidentified mine, all in the Palmer area.

“It’s important that all of the properties are inspected on an annual basis and reported on,” Corkin said in regards to the situation.

Carlson also presented his own abandoned mines and pits inspection report for 2017 to the board, with a total of 59 abandoned mines and pits inspected in Michigamme, Negaunee, Ishpeming, as well as the townships of Ely, Ishpeming, Negaunee and Forsyth.

He also shared updates about mining in the area during his report.

“It’s been a very interesting year, with a new chance for Highland Copper coming in, that’s one of my highlights,” Carlson said. “When they got here, they were trying to look for all the abandoned gold mines … They wanted to find them, so I was able to help them — I was able to GPS them.”

Carlson noted that he had previously spent a few years tracking down the mines and mapping their coordinates with GPS and was proud he could provide Highland Copper with precise location information for the sites.

Carlson also shared an update about the Eagle Mine.

“Another one of my highlights — a couple weeks ago, I got to the bottom of the Eagle Mine and they drove me over to … where the new mine is going to be,” he said. “They’re about one year away from the highest grades of nickel they’ve ever found, so it’s going to be interesting once they get that mine going.”

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.