Louisville, Kentucky — Lundin Mining is developing a new nickel deposit that could extend the life of its Eagle nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula that ramped up to full production in 2015 and is expected to see output gradually decline from this year on, according to an official with the Canadian company.
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"We're aggressively drilling Eagle East, a new deposit, and that's looking quite promising," the official, who asked not to be identified, said Monday.
The drilling is aimed at allowing the Toronto-based company to "come up with an inferred resource," the official said. "The grades [of ore] are looking real good, and we could have an inferred resource in 2017."
That timetable would give the company plenty of time to expand Eagle, whose initial nickel production of about 25,000 mt in its first full year of operation is forecast to fall to 21,000-24,000 mt in 2016, 18,000-21,000 mt in 2017 and 15,000-18,000 mt in 2018. Copper output is expected to be similar.
The original mine is projected to have a life of eight or nine years. Lundin has marketing agreements for all of the Marquette County mine's production, although officials have declined to identify offtakers or discuss prices.
The Eagle mine is an underground operation accessed by a mile-long incline. Once brought to the surface, nickel and copper are transported by truck to the nearby Humboldt mill, where they are milled and separated into nickel and copper concentrates before being sent by rail to third-party facilities for further refining.
Tailings are disposed of in an existing tailings facility.
Lundin, a producer of zinc and lead in addition to nickel and copper, has operations and projects in Portugal, Sweden and Spain in addition to the US. The company holds a 24% equity stake in the Tenke Fungurume copper/cobalt mine in the Congo and in the Freeport Cobalt Oy business, which includes a cobalt refinery in Kokkola, Finland.