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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, however the mine plan and facility layout changed considerably for the facility to apply for the wetlands, lakes and streams permit which was issued in June 2018. These changes resulted in Aquila also applying to amend the mine permit in November 2018 to address the changes in the mine plan and facility layout. In December 2018, Aquila applied for a new air permit, and a dam safety permit for the tailings disposal facility. The mine and air permit applications are currently under review, and EGLE will have a joint public hearing for the mine permit, the air permit, and possibly the dam safety permit. The wetland permit is currently being contested. DNR staff have reviewed the applications and draft permits and continue to attend the public hearings.
A NPDES permit was issued for the proposed Back Forty mine by the State of Michigan in April 2017. As this permit sets prescribed treated water discharge limits to receiving waters, such as the Menominee River, EGLE consulted DNR prior to the issuance of the permit to ensure that the limits within the permit comply with the requirements of both states. Specifically, DNR water quality staff thoroughly reviewed the surface water discharge permit application, and Michigan's draft surface water discharge permit. As required by the Clean Water Act, the proposed discharge meets Wisconsin's 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".
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.
- Notice of intent - Town of Schoepke, Oneida County, Wisconsin
- Metallic Mineral Exploration Application
- Metallic Mineral Exploration License for Badger Minerals, LLC
- Notice of Intent to Drill
- Endangered resources review
- WPDES Permit Coverage
- WPDES DSA GP Form
- WPDES NOI Dewatering Form
- WPDES Dewatering BMP Form
- Intake or Outfall Structure Exemption Checklist
- Exemption Determination Request
- Badger Minerals Schoepke Project – Notice of Intent to Drill – Disturbance Estimate for Stormwater – Erosion Control
- Badger Minerals - Disturbance Estimate
- Notification of commencement of Schoepke drilling program (Sections 4 & 9, T35N, R11E, Oneida County)
- Notice of Intent to Drill from Badger Minerals
- Notice of Intent to Drill reply from DNR
- Figure of revised site plan
- Water Intake - Exemption Determination Request
- Response to written Exemption Determination Request
- Badger Minerals NOI Dewatering Operations
- Coverage under WPDES General Permit No. WI-0049344-05-0
- Badger Minerals - Disturbance Estimate
- Badger Minerals - Disturbance Estimate email
- Badger Minerals - Disturbance Estimate
- Bond Rider
- Notice of Commencement to Drill – Town of Schoepke, Oneida County, Wisconsin
- Well/Drillhole/Borehole Filling & Sealing Project