MARQUETTE — Operation Action U.P., a group dedicated to finding the pulse of what’s happening economically in the 15 Upper Peninsula counties, gathered at NMU Wednesday for their annual meeting.

This year’s Operation Action U.P. meeting began with a panel discussion about the future of mining in the U.P. Representatives from three mining companies working in the area spoke about their current projects and the industry’s outlook in the area. Canadian company Highland Copper presented information on their plans to explore mineral deposits in the western U.P.

“We believe that putting mines in production will bring infrastructure improvement, will bring opportunities of other business growing with us,” said Carlos Bertoni, Vice President of Project Development at Highland Copper. “We want to foster these businesses. We just don’t want to talk about number of jobs we’re going to create; we want to look at a much more sustainable approach to economic development for the long term. We’re not here to create boom and bust situations — ghost towns.”

Robin Quigley of Aquila Resources talked about the Back Forty Project, where they are exploring gold and zinc deposits and studying the feasibility of building a mine in Menominee County. Eagle Mine’s Matthew Johnson said that they are continuing to explore further options to take their mine past its expected eight–year lifespan. Panelists acknowledged that improvements and additions to infrastructure, including the electrical grid, will be important for future mining operations.

In addition to the mining panel, A. Lindberg & Sons, Nor–Fab Enterprises, Biogenic Reagents, and Thomas Theatre Group were honored with awards of excellence.

“What it means to me most importantly is I think it’s a credit to all of our employees that we have,” said Thomas Andes, president and owner of Thomas Theatre Group. “Without our employees, we’re not able to do what we do on a daily basis every single day of the year, so I think this is a big nod to them.”

“The U.P. has been a great place for us to grow our business,” added James Mennell, CEO of Biogenic Reagents. “We’ve hired all of our people locally from the U.P. Our main feed stock, wood, comes from the U.P. It’s nice to have this recognition both for our employees and for our local partners.”

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