The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently granted a Metallic Mineral Exploration License to a subsidiary of a Canadian-based mining company in preparation for the drilling of test holes in property in the Town of Schoepke in eastern Oneida County.
According to a DNR press release, the agency received an application for the license from Badger Minerals LLC of Menominee, Mich. on Jan. 29, along with the required notice of intent to drill. The company is a subsidiary of Can-America Minerals, Inc. of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
The permit was issued on Feb. 11 and is valid until June 30, but may be renewed prior to its expiration. Drilling is supposed to take place in February and March, with remediation efforts to start as soon as weather and ground conditions permit.
According to the notice of intent, up to 10 holes will be drilled over three planned drilling sites located on private parcels owned by Badger Minerals and Heartwood Forestland Group. The proposed Badger Mineral drill sites are located directly adjacent to sites previously explored by Noranda, another Canadian mining company, in the late 1970s.
Eric Quigley, a senior geologist with Great Lakes Exploration who submitted the notice of intent to drill on behalf of Badger Minerals, said the boreholes are just exploratory in nature.
"We're looking for the presence of base and precious mineralization," Quigley said in a telephone interview with the River News.
He said what exactly will be found is unknown.
"This is really a first pass exploration effort to understand a little more about the geology there and whether or not the signs of mineralization exists there," he explained.
The boreholes will result a maximum of 4,000 linear feet of borehole, including rock core samples, it was noted.
"The boreholes will be 3-4 inches in diameter, allowing for cylindrical core samples to be removed for analysis. Upon completion of the exploration, boreholes must be appropriately abandoned and filled or sealed following the protocol outlined in NR 130," according to the press release.
In November 2018, Oneida County voters were asked to weigh in on an advisory referendum on sulfide mining on county-owned land in the Town of Lynne.
The result was 7,129 "yes" votes and 11,927 "no" votes. However, in October 2019, the county board voted down a resolution that would have prohibited non-ferrous metallic mining on all county-owned land.
The Schoepke site is owned by Badger Minerals not Oneida County.
According to the permit, it will be accessed from a gated access point 1 1/2 miles in on Browne's Road off U.S. Highway 8. As of Friday afternoon, there was no sign the project had gotten underway.
Quigley said if the test borings yield signs of underground minerals, the exploration license could be extended past June 30.
"That's just to keep it current with the state," he said. "If we are to continuing exploration in the area, we would have to renew that license."
If minerals are located, the depth they are at would determine what type of mining would be needed to get at it.
Shallow deposits would likely be reached with a surface mine while an underground approach would be needed for deeper locations, he explained.
Quigley said it is too early to talk about that, however.
"That is talking mining, this is really just exploration,' he said. "We can't really say what's down there and the nature of it until we test it."
Badger Minerals would have to apply to the DNR for a mining permit to go beyond test boreholes.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at email@example.com.
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