Eagle Mine transfer ceremony

The old and new owners of Marquette County’s Eagle Mine held a transfer ceremony this afternoon to mark a new beginning for the mine.

Rio Tinto and Lundin Mining held the ceremony at the Humboldt Mill.

Lundin paid $315 million for the Eagle Mine and the mill.

The company took over operation of them last week.

Rio Tinto decided just a few months ago that it wanted to sell.

“Our serious discussions started with Rio Tinto earlier this year as they ran a process to divest of the asset,” Lundin Mining president and CEO Paul Conibear said. “We’re just delighted to have come in first prize here and be on the ground here in the U.P. …We see predominantly the status quo here. This project has already been rolling. Our main objective is to get people on the ground here to ramp up the construction.”

Rio Tinto discovered the Eagle Mine’s nickel ore body in Michigamme Township in 2002.

It’s of very high quality, but it wasn’t quite large enough to match Rio Tinto’s portfolio.

The company originally wanted to sell a 50% stake, but officials gradually changed their minds.

“We’re delighted with the outcome,” former Eagle Mine president Adam Burley said. “Lundin is a good company that’s acquired other Rio Tinto businesses in the past and has managed those businesses very responsibly and successfully, and so we look forward with a lot of optimism around the success of Eagle.”

Lundin owns just one other mine where nickel is the primary product.

It’s in Spain and it’s closing in 2015, so Lundin officials say they’re especially eager to start production at the Eagle Mine late next year.