The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has issued a permit for copper exploration in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

The permit has been issued to Copperwood Resources Inc., a subsidiary of Highland Copper, to resume its winter exploration of a 1-mile section of the westernmost portion of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Work is being done to see if the eastern extension of a mineral deposit first explored in the 1950s might feasibly be mined, which would enlarge the mining company’s Copperwood Project beyond its currently-permitted boundaries. Work is scheduled to be completed over the next month and a half.

“This use permit will allow Copperwood Resources to resume work begun last winter at the park,” said Doug Rich, western U.P. district supervisor for the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “However, this winter’s exploration will be scaled back from the mining company’s original plans.”

The mining company is expected to drill three test holes on DNR-managed state park land west of Gogebic County Road 519. Wetlands permits from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will be required before work on two of the sites on park land can begin.

The three drill sites were among 12 expected to be explored last winter. However, after completing four test holes, work was interrupted with the arrival of unseasonably-warm February weather. DNR permit provisions dictated work could only be done when the ground was frozen, preferably with at least a foot of snow cover. Other protective provisions include using existing roads to access sites when possible, using tracked vehicles and removing all drilling mud from work sites.

Outside DNR-managed park lands, some additional drilling work is scheduled to be completed this winter. If Copper Resources eventually decides to extend the Copperwood Project, the copper deposit would be accessed from outside the park boundary.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources