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Eagle East producing ore

First material delivered to Humboldt Mill

Samples from the first load of ore from the Eagle East ore deposit. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

MARQUETTE — The sound of raw nickel and copper ore cascading from a mine dump truck onto a waiting platform marks the culmination of a three-year journey for officials at Eagle Mine.

Monday marked the first load of nickel and copper ore from the operation’s Eagle East ore body to its Humboldt Mill processing facility with dozens of employees and officials alike on hand for the occasion.

Eagle Mine, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Lundin Mining, has been in operation and has been mining high-grade nickel and copper in Michigamme Township since 2014.

The company discovered the Eagle East ore body in 2016 and invested $107 million into a dual decline tunnel to access the deposit located about a mile east of the Eagle Mine site and about 2,500 feet below it.

“It’s been a long time coming and we are pretty excited,” said Eagle Mine Managing Director Kristen Mariuzza. “There’s been a lot of work coming up to this point. A lot of people have come together to create Eagle East, whether it be the exploration team finding it, the project team for designing it, or our underground contractor for actually executing the project.”

The company celebrated the first load of ore from the Eagle East ore deposit which is one mile away and 2,500 feet below the initial Eagle Mine deposit. A recent announcement puts the life of the Eagle Mine operation into mid-2025. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

Eagle Mine Technical Services Superintendent Josh Lam said the Eagle East ore body is expected to yield about 30,000 tons of ore over the next year, which will be blended with product from the Eagle ore body.

The first production of ore is occurring a few months ahead of schedule, capping a month in which the company announced that the result of recent underground infill and extension drilling, which is used to more closely define the size of an ore body, would mean a longer life-of-mine.

“A lot of hard work and commitment and world class execution have extended our mine life into 2025,” Lam said, “from all of our employees and contractors.”

Mariuzza said that while the discovery of the Eagle East ore body would extend the life of the Eagle Mine operation, it will not include new jobs at this time, in part because no additional facilities or personnel were needed.

“Right now, because we are staying at the same production rate, what it’s going to do is retain the people that we have,” Mariuzza said. “But that’s 400 employees and contractors that the mine and the mill employ.”

Eagle Mine employees pick samples from the first load of ore from the Eagle East ore deposit. The company invested $107 million to reach and define the deposit. Accessing the deposit required the construction of a dual decline tunnel, which began in 2016. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

She said the company will continue underground drilling. Any new information found from those efforts would be announced in 2020.

“There are certainly no guarantees with underground drilling,” Mariuzza said. “But if we were to find anything it would not be announced until next year.”

She said mine officials are especially grateful to the local community.

“I just want to thank the community for continuing to support Eagle,” Mariuzza said. “We are really excited to be extending our life-of-mine to 2025. We will be here for longer than we thought, and hopefully we’ll continue that trend in the future.”

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