Lundin Mining has been busy ramping up construction on the Eagle Mine and Mill sites since taking the reins from Rio Tinto in July.
Officials from the Toronto–based company invited Marquette community leaders to an informational seminar to learn more about the progress being made.
The Eagle Mine will be producing quite a bit once spring rolls around: about 700,000 tons of ore per year.
In the meantime, Lundin’s workforce has been just as busy renovating the Humboldt Mill so it’s ready for the big hauls to come.
“Currently, we’re employing, total between the two sites–the mine and the mill–about 600 people,” Senior Vice President of Projects at Lundin Mining Corporation Paul McRae said. “That level of employment will be maintained until, roughly, May. At that time, we’ll be switching more to an operating mode and we’ll be employing, total direct employment, about 330 people.”
“I think the Eagle Mine and the Humboldt Project have really boosted the employment numbers,” Executive Director of the Upper Peninsula Construction Council Tony Retaskie said. “We’ve got hundreds of tradesmen and women working at both of those facilities. Some of these are tradesmen and women that hadn’t had jobs in couple years, prior to their employment.”
In fact, 75% of those hired at the mill so far are from the U.P.
Although some of those jobs may seem dangerous, safety continues to be Lundin’s number one priority.
“We’re a different company than Rio [Tinto]. Rio is much larger global. But, one thing that we do have in common is a commitment to health and safety,” McRae said. “We’re obviously carrying on with the same personnel and really encouraging them and everybody that works with us to carry this tradition on. The objective is to win the hearts and minds of everyone involved in the project.”
But it’s not just the hearts and minds of the workers that Lundin has won over, it’s the entire community.
“Community support is absolutely essential to our operations. And, on a personal basis, it’s really satisfying to give something back to the communities who support you,” McRae said.
Their latest investment will provide a total $750,000 for start-ups and existing local businesses who work with Northern Initiatives, a non-profit found in 51 counties in Michigan and the surrounding area.
“So it’s really a great thing for us because it’s a refresh if you will. It’s a chance to do some experimentation,” President of Northern Initiatives Dennis West said. “We’ve done 700 plus loans now. So, having a way to think about our underwriting and test some new ideas – it’s a really exciting development.”
Between the entrepreneurial endowment and the hundreds of thousand of dollars in community funding, the Eagle Mine is projected to be a driving force in the local economy for years to come.