In May 2017, Highland Copper acquired from Kennecott Exploration Company and Rio Tinto Nickel Company (“RTX”), subsidiaries of the Rio Tinto Group, mineral properties covering approximately 447,842 acres in the central Upper Peninsula of the State of Michigan, U.S.A. (the ''UPX Properties'').
The area shown in red on the maps (see Figures 1 and 2) indicates the general area within which the UPX Properties are located. Access to most of the UPX Properties is by paved and logging roads from the community of Marquette.
The acquisition of the UPX Properties establishes Highland as a dominant mining exploration and development company in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and offers the opportunity to build a pipeline of projects that could be developed in the future.
History of Project
Early exploration in the central Upper Peninsula focused on iron ore and slate in the Marquette Range Supergroup, and gold in the Ishpeming Greenstone Belt. Henry Ford purchased the Michigan Land and Iron Company in 1920, thereby acquiring a large tract of mineral rights in the central Upper Peninsula. Ford Motor Company successfully operated several iron mines to supply raw materials for their automobiles.
Exploration for metals other than iron and gold began in the 1960’s and 1970’s when several companies-initiated exploration programs for uranium and zinc. To assist exploration efforts for these strategic minerals the U.S. government funded several deep drillholes in the Michigamme Formation to further define stratigraphy in the 1970’s.
Potential for a magmatic nickel-copper ore body in the Upper Peninsula was recognized in the mid to late 1970’s, with the Michigan Geological Survey report “The Yellow Dog Peridotite and a Possible Buried Igneous Complex of Lower Keweenawan Age in the Northern Peninsula of Michigan” (Klasner et. al, 1979).
In the early 1990’s RTX purchased Ford’s Upper Peninsula mineral holdings and commenced exploration focused zinc deposits, but the discovery of boulders with nickel-copper sulfide mineralization during geologic mapping and boulder tracing programs led RTX to refocus exploration toward Ni-Cu massive sulfide deposits.
Since 2003, the UPX Properties have been subject to over 69,500 line-miles of detailed airborne geophysical surveys as well as 147 diamond drill holes. Almost all the RTX exploration effort ultimately led to the discovery of the Eagle Mine. The Eagle Mine now operated by Lundin Mining is an underground, high-grade NI-Cu mine located adjacent to the UPX Properties. Exploration for deposits of other commodities was limited even if the mineral potential is considered as excellent.
Highland Copper has been compiling of all available data from previous work to better understand the potential of the various properties. The work program included field mapping and soil surveys along with ground geophysics. A re-interpretation of available geophysical data was also be carried out with emphasis on the understanding of the various geological environments. Several drilling targets have been identified.