Skip to main content

Recent and potential metallic mining projects in Wisconsin

Click on the tabs below for short descriptions of metallic mineral deposits in Wisconsin that are currently being explored for mining or were the sites of recently closed mines.

In addition to the deposits described in the tabs below, you can read information about the closed Flambeau Mine and its reclamation.

map of metallic deposits in Wisconsin

Bend

Bend Deposit

Location: Chequamegon National Forest, Taylor County

The Bend Copper-Gold Deposit is located approximately 19 miles north-northwest of the city of Medford in Taylor County, within the Chequamegon National Forest. The deposit was originally discovered in 1986 and drilled in the early 1990s by the Jump River Joint Venture. The deposit is mostly copper-bearing sulfides with significant gold and minor amounts of silver in two overlapping zones, totaling an estimated 4.23 million tons of ore. Aquila Resources has obtained an exploration license from the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is in the process of re-evaluating the deposit. If this deposit is ever developed it would likely be an underground mine.

The DNR performed a site inspection in January 2012 and exploratory drilling began in the same month.

Related documents

Crandon

Crandon Deposit

Location: Forest County

Exxon discovered the Crandon deposit, located on private property approximately five miles south of the city of Crandon, in 1976. Companies made two unsuccessful attempts at permitting, first in the 1980s and later between 1994 and 2003. The Chippewa and Potawatomi tribes purchased the site in 2003. There is no current mining activity.

The ore deposit is 4,900 feet long, 2,200 feet deep and 100 feet wide. It has an estimated 55 million tons of ore containing zinc, copper, lead, gold and silver. Had the deposit been mined, it would have been an underground mine with approximately 550 acres of surface processing and disposal areas.

Lynne

Lynne Deposit

Location: Oneida County

The Lynne deposit was discovered in 1990 by Noranda Exploration and is located on forestry land owned by Oneida County within the town of Lynne. It is primarily a zinc sulfide ore with significant lead and silver and minor amounts of gold and copper. The deposit is estimated to be approximately 5.6 million tons recoverable by open pit mining. Mining companies are considering further exploration and are working with Oneida County's forestry department and the county's mining impact committee to obtain exploration and development leases.

Related documents

Reef

Reef Deposit

Location: Eastern Marathon County

The Reef Deposit is a potential high-grade gold deposit located in the town of Easton in Marathon County. Although the occurrence of gold has been known in this area for many years, the current deposit was drilled and described by Noranda Exploration in the 1970s and 1980s. The deposit was estimated to contain up to 454,000 tons of high-grade gold reserves in scattered, shallow weathered sulfides and quartz breccias. The Aquila Resources company has acquired options on the mineral and surface rights and is conducting exploration drilling. If this deposit is developed, it would likely be an open pit mine.

The DNR issued an exploration license to Aquila Resources in spring 2011 and performed a site inspection in May 2011. Phase I of the exploratory drilling program began in July 2011 and continued until September 2011 with the completion of 24 boreholes. Phase II of the drilling program started in January 2012 to access sites too wet for drilling in the summer.

Related documents

Michigan Back Forty

Michigan Back Forty Deposit

Location: Town of Stephenson, Menominee County, Michigan

The Back Forty is a zinc and gold deposit located in Menominee County in the south-central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The deposit is approximately 21 miles north of Menominee, Michigan, and Marinette, Wisconsin, and is located adjacent to the Menominee River, which is a shared resource water between Michigan and Wisconsin. Due to the proximity of the site to the Wisconsin border and the Menominee River, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been following the project and has coordinated with the State of Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) from the initial scoping of the project, through to the present day.

The Back Forty site boundary is wholly contained within Michigan's jurisdiction therefore the State of Michigan has sole permitting and oversight authority for the proposed mine. The original air and mining permits were issued to Aquila Resources (Aquila) by the EGLE in December 2016. In April 2017, the State of Michigan issued an NPDES wastewater permit for the proposed Back Forty Mine discharge for a maximum term of five years. The NPDES permit authorized a discharge of treated wastewater to the Menominee River, an interstate water that borders the western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the northeast region of Wisconsin. As part of the permit reissuance process, Michigan consulted with Wisconsin DNR. WDNR reviewed the permit to ensure Wisconsin water standards would be met and provided a response that the proposed discharge would meet Wisconsin water quality standards.

In July 2021, the State of Michigan reached out to WDNR again stating they were in the process of reissuing the subject NPDES permit and requested WDNR review of the draft permit. The WDNR reviewed the updated draft permit materials and evaluated the proposed discharge limitations with respect to Wisconsin water quality standards. As part of this review, the WDNR made recommendations based on the methodology Wisconsin uses to calculate metals water quality standards and effluent limits. Wisconsin's recommendations take into account the slight statistical differences in how Wisconsin and Michigan derive metals water quality standards as well as how metals water quality-based effluent limits are calculated by the two states. In February 2022, WDNR sent a letter to Michigan describing its evaluation of the draft permit and recommending that Wisconsin’s comments on the metals permit limits for copper, nickel, lead and zinc be considered to ensure protection of Wisconsin water quality standards.

Specific questions or concerns regarding the proposed Back Forty Mine should be directed by email to Melanie Humphrey, EGLE, or phone: 906-250-7564.

The original mine permit documents and amendment are available at EGLE Mining.

The proposed mine location and NPDES Permit can be viewed at MiWaters - Water Resources Information and Forms search "Back Forty".

Schoepke Site

Location: Shoepke Township, Oneida County

The Shoepke site was previously explored in the late 1970's by Noranda, Inc and is located in the town of Shoepke in southeast Oneida County. Badger Minerals, LLC (a subsidiary of Can-American Minerals, Inc of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada) has planned exploration activities for February and March, 2020 to evaluate the mineral potential of the area and was issued a metallic mineral exploration license on February 11, 2020. The three planned drilling sites are located on private parcels owned by Badger Minerals and Heartwood Forestland Group. Exploration drilling will include up to 10 bore holes totaling a maximum of 4,000 linear feet of borehole including rock core samples.