Political climate, metal prices heat up mining applicationsThere’s a lot of interest in prospecting for minerals in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
There’s a lot of interest in prospecting for minerals in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Three companies want to begin exploration there.
A large deposit of copper, zinc, gold and other metals stretches from the Wisconsin/Upper Michigan border into north central Wisconsin to the Ladysmith area.
Federal Bureau of Land Management Geologist Jeff Nolder said there has been exploration and mining there in the past, but now he’s seeing resurgence in applications to explore that belt.
“Yes, depending on metals prices, yes,” Nolder said. “We have a lot of exploration activity going on right now because metals prices are through the roof.”
Three companies have asked to prospect in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, but much of that information is considered proprietary so it can’t be released yet. But one company, Aquila Resources, is applying to explore northern Taylor County near Medford for copper and zinc.
Tom Quigley, Aquila chief executive officer, said a combination of politics and metal prices make the exploration climate more favorable in Wisconsin.
“That and the fact that it’s more of a Republican government now and probably will focus a bit more on economics,” Quigley said.
Even so, the Bureau of Land Management’s Nolder said permitting regulations are strict both on the state and federal level. But he said mining is as commercially viable now as it has been in many years.
“It’s a very interesting time to be working for the federal government in resource management,” Nolder said. “That’s for sure.
He said while things are busy on federal land in Wisconsin, northern Minnesota’s Superior National Forest has 44 exploration applications pending.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.