Comment sought amid U.P. mineral exploration

Associated Press

Marquette — Michigan is accepting public comments about a company’s requests for leases as part of an effort to look for minerals in the western Upper Peninsula.

Grand Rapids-based Trans Superior Resources Inc. has requested direct metallic mineral leases from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for more than 3,000 acres of property in parts of three counties, The Mining Journal of Marquette reported.

“This is early stage exploration, so it’s very premature to discuss a mining operation,” said Michael Carr, president of Trans Superior Resources. “In fact it’s not really relevant at this stage. Exploration is a risky business and the odds of success are really small.”

The subsidiary of Canada-based Bitterroot Resources Ltd. made the request to the DNR on Dec. 30. A public comment period runs through May 31.

Recently completed aerial magnetic and electromagnetic surveying of the area determined multiple areas that the company wants to examine more closely, Carr said. In mid-March, Bitterroot Resources said there’s interest in finding potential high-grade magmatic nickel-copper deposits.

Alexandra Maxwell, executive director of the environmental group Save the Wild U.P., recently urged the DNR to deny the lease requests.

“Mineral exploration … could negatively impact multiple rivers like the Trout Creek, Jumbo River or Deadman Creek,” she said.

The areas include about 1,605 acres in Ontonagon County; roughly 1,285 acres in Houghton County; and about 160 acres in Iron County. Nearly 90 percent of the property is located in the Ottawa National Forest with the surface land owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

Karen Maidlow, property specialist with the DNR’s Office of Minerals Management, said consent by the forest service is not required for the property leases to move forward, but the exploration company would need to follow federal guidelines for such activity.