The Eagle Mine is a small, high-grade nickel and copper mine owned by Lundin Mining Corporation. The mine is located on the Yellow Dog Plains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (U.S.). Eagle is the only primary nickel mine in the nation. The Mine began production in Fall 2014 and is expected to produce 360 million pounds of nickel, 295 million pounds of copper and small amounts of other metals (platinum, palladium, silver, gold, and cobalt) over its eight-year mine life.
Eagle is a decline-accessed underground mine, primarily utilizing long hole stoping for production. Interest in the project both locally and statewide had increased due to the submission of a mining permit application for the project. The project has garnered local opposition as well as support. The opposition groups claim that the mine will produce environmental damage, while supporters and the company claim the mine will protect the environment while producing much-needed jobs.
Surface construction at the mine started in 2010, with underground construction taking place in 2011. Production commenced in September 2014 ahead of schedule and on budget. The surface facilities for the mine will cover less than 130 acres (53 ha), and ore processing will be done off site at the nearby Humboldt Mill. The mine will be backfilled as mining progresses. Once mining ceases both facilities will be reclaimed to their natural state.
The ore deposit contains 4.1 million metric tons of rock containing 3.6 percent nickel and 2.9 percent copper. The economic minerals associated with this deposit are predominantly pentlandite and chalcopyrite.
Some Native Americans believe that the mine site is sacred. Several groups protested the development of the mine.
On July 30, 2007, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) re-issued preliminary approval for the mining permit. The permit was initially approved in January 2007, however it was found that the DEQ failed to release documents relating to the crown pillar of the mine. As a result, the preliminary approval was withdrawn and the permit process was put on hold until the issue could be further investigated. The resulting investigation cleared the DEQ of any wrongdoing and the consideration of the permit application was able to proceed.
On December 14, 2007, the DEQ announced that it would issue permits for mining to take place at the Eagle project. DEQ Director Steven Chester said: "In the end, Kennecott's proposal met the high standard set by Michigan's environmental laws."
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a Surface Use Lease to Kennecott on February 7, granting use of a parcel of state land for surface facilities to be associated with the mine. The same four petitioners also filed suit in Ingham Circuit Court challenging the DNR decision to grant the lease.
Kennecott also submitted an application for an Underground Injection Control permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its proposed disposal system for treated wastewater. The EPA has not indicated a timeframe for acting on the application.
The DNR Surface Use Lease is not effective until final approval is granted for all other required permits, i.e., until such time as the EPA grants a permit and any administrative appeals of the DEQ and EPA permits are decided. However, Kennecott has the right in the meantime to begin construction of some surface facilities on land the company owns.
"The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a Mining Permit, Air Use Permit, and Groundwater Discharge Permit to Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company (Kennecott) for the Eagle Project mine on December 14, 2007. The National Wildlife Federation, Huron Mountain Club, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, and Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve filed administrative appeals contesting the issuance of the Mining Permit and Groundwater Discharge Permit on December 21. Kennecott has been granted intervener status in the contested case. The case was scheduled to be heard by an administrative law judge beginning on April 28, 2008. Under contested case procedures, the law judge hears the case and submits a proposal for decision to the DEQ Director, who then makes the final DEQ decision. The four petitioners also filed a lawsuit in Ingham Circuit Court contesting issuance of the Air Use Permit."