UPX Minerals withdraws request

MARQUETTE — A contested mineral lease request involving thousands of acres of land in Marquette County has been withdrawn.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced on Tuesday that UPX Minerals, a subsidiary of Canadian-based Highland Copper, withdrew its request for the mineral rights on 2,500 acres in Marquette, Michigamme, Negaunee, Champion and Republic townships, which in some cases would have impacted privately-owned land.

Hundreds of area residents, property owners and environmental activists attended a public forum held by the DNR in December. Attendees cited reduced property values, the potential for contaminated well or surface water, and the possibility of negating other property ownership rights as reasons for opposing the company’s proposal.

No reason was given by the DNR for the company’s withdrawal, and officials at UPX Minerals could not be reached for comment.

In Michigan, mineral rights may be sold or retained separately from the surface rights. In such a case, the mineral rights are said to be “severed.”

In November 2017, Wakefield-based UPX Minerals requested direct metallic mineral leases from the state in Iron and Marquette counties.

UPX’s initial request nominated 6,655 acres in portions of Marquette and Iron counties, 62 percent of which were withdrawn prior to November 2018.

Highland Copper, in the meantime, is making progress on its Copperwood project in northwestern Ontonagon County. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit amendment in January that will allow the company to begin construction at the site.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.