WHITE PINE — A former mine site in Ontonagon County is currently the focus of exploration to find out what it might take to mine copper there in the future.

White Pine Copper, LLC, a subsidiary of Canadian company Highland Copper, is on its way to finding out more about the potential for mining copper near the site of the former White Pine mine. An experienced, multi-disciplinary staff gathered at the site in 2014 to undertake the pre-feasibility study required to verify if copper is present at quantities that are economically recoverable.

“We’re drilling up to the north of the old mine, and with much closer spaced holes to get a better idea of the resource that’s there,” said senior geologist Bill Rowell.

In addition to native copper, geologists at White Pine are looking at deposits of chalcocite, a copper sulfide ore.

“It’s actually a very good ore in that it’s high grade for copper. It’s 80 percent copper, and it mills very nicely,” said Rowell. “You can make a very good concentrate out of it. It doesn’t give you any acid generation problems.”

Drillers from IDEA Drilling are working around the clock to dig up samples for geologists to observe in order to help determine the size and orientation of the ore body beneath the surface.

“Well, it’s rewarding when you get down and you get your depth, you find the information,” said IDEA Drilling Foreman Ron Burns. “We want these guys to get all the information and get it properly. That’s our product.”

“We measure the rock for the rock quality, which down the line is used for rock strength,” said Anthony Geglio, staff geologist for Highland Copper, “and we use it further down the line for the interpretation of the geology and further exploration of the copper that we are looking for.”

In addition to analyzing materials, the group working at White Pine is collecting extensive environmental data, exploring how best to utilize surface facilities located in the brownfield areas of White Pine for possible future operations, and looking at how White Pine facilities could be used in conjunction with the Copperwood project near Wakefield.

The pre-feasibility study at White Pine is expected to be complete this summer.