Copperwood Project

Project Name: Copperwood


Highland Copper Company 

Highland Copper Company Copperwood Project

Mining Action Group

Project Lead: Highland Copper Company Inc. (Acquired from Orvana in June, 2014)

Location of Project:

1842 Treaty territory in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, approximately 70 miles <west> from the L'Anse Reservation and 45 miles <southwest> from the Ontonagon Reservation.



Metals: Copper, silver

Type of Mine: underground - room and pillar; located about 800 feet below the surface and would extend mining to within 200 feet of Lake Superior (although the deposit itself dips beneath Lake Superior)

Estimated production life, once open: about 14 years

Environmental and Other Concerns:

Proximity and impacts to Lake Superior, including pristine shoreline habitat

  • Water discharges into Nabeminag Creek of Lake Superior
  • Subsidence of the surface above the mine and potential associated hydrological impacts
  • Scale and characteristic of a permanent tailings basin on the surface which would fill over 16,000 feet of streams and about 60 acres of wetlands, with potential to leach heavy metals and other contaminants for centuries)
  • Least environmentally impactful alternatives are not being taken due to cost savings (i.e. backfilling tailings and eliminating subsidence
  • Potential impacts to reserved treaty resources, including nearby Lake Superior fishery
  • Potential perpetual care associated with pumping of a Lake Superior freshwater cap to prevent discharge of salty brine water (example of nearby White Pine Mine)
  • Dispersed chalcocite in the deposit, a copper sulfide mineral that is not exempt from the risks of acid mine drainage


Highland started exploratory drilling in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in February, 2017. The exploratory drilling, into Precambrian aged bedrock, will be used by Highland to refine their Copperwood mining program. While the State of Michigan owns the surface land rights, managed by the DNR, Highland owns the subsurface mineral rights.

March 1, 2013 USEPA Comments on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application
February 22, 2013 MDEQ Inland Lakes and Streams and Wetlands Protection Permit

January 31, 2013 USEPA Comments on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application

September 5, 2012 MDEQ Letter to Orvana – Wetlands/Streams Permit Review  

August 21, 2012 USEPA Objection Letter on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application

July 17, 2012 Air Permit to Install 180-11

July 8, 2012 KBIC Comments on Wetlands/Streams Permit Application

May 29, 2012 MDEQ Fact Sheet on Air Permit to Install

April 30, 2012 MDEQ Mine Permit

December 7, 2011 Comments on Orvana Mining Permit Application