Surface explorations to cease at Eagle Mine sites

HUMBOLDT — Surface exploration for mineral deposits in southern Houghton and Baraga counties will cease in the coming days.

Eagle Mine, a subsidiary of Canadian-based Lundin Mining, issued a release Wednesday that it would conclude its regional exploration program in those areas.

The decision to discontinue the program, which consisted of aerial magnetic surveys in the spring of 2018 followed by exploratory drilling beginning in May 2019, was an “economic” decision, said Matt Johnson, external relations manager at Eagle Mine, in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“Exploration programs and budgets across all our mines are continuously being evaluated for the potential likelihood of finding a (mineral) deposit economic to mine,” Johnson said. “As a global company, allocation of capital across our operations is carefully considered. After significant investment over the last several years, the difficult decision was made to conclude this program at Eagle Mine.”

According to the company website, the Lundin budgeted $70 million in exploration expenditures for 2019, with $15 million earmarked for Eagle explorations.

He said 12 employment positions were impacted by the company’s cessation of surface exploration, but efforts are currently underway to secure those employees positions elsewhere within Eagle Mine or globally with Lundin.

Johnson pointed out that the company has spent $93 million since 2013 on surface exploration, an investment that has direct correlation to the discovery of the Eagle East ore body, and the extension of Eagle’s life of mine.

“Since 2013, we have had an active exploration program just around the Eagle Mine site in Marquette County,” Johnson said. “The success of that essentially gave us Eagle East. We wanted to really thank our exploration team who are some of our longest serving employees here at Eagle Mine who have been responsible for the discovery of Eagle East, extending Eagle’s mine life and essentially securing hundreds of jobs.”

The Eagle East ore body is located about 1.2 miles from the initial site in Michigamme Township at a depth of about 3,000 feet beneath the surface. The company began construction of a dual decline tunnel from Eagle Mine to the Eagle East ore body in July 2016.

Johnson said underground exploration at the Eagle East ore body will continue.

“We will be ready to mine Eagle East soon with the hope that that underground drilling program will extend the life of Eagle beyond 2023, which as of today is (the end of) our life of mine,” Johnson said. “Any changes to our life of mine will be announced in September.”

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