Eagle Mine Takes Wireless Underground

Nickel and copper mine and mill in Michigan’s U.P. uses WirelessHART for vibration monitoring and other instruments to cut costs, improve safety and increase throughput.

Nickel and copper are used in everything from cars and appliances to medical instruments and household batteries. As the only primary nickel mining operation in the U.S., Eagle Mine, in western Marquette County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, plays a key role in bringing many of these products to market.

The Eagle Mine site is a underground, high-grade, greenfield nickel and copper mine. It's the first mine to be permitted under Michigan’s Part 632, Non-Ferrous Mineral Mining Law. During its estimated eight-year mine life from 2014-22, Eagle Mine is expected to produce 365 million pounds of nickel, 295 million pounds of copper, and trace amounts of other minerals. It's a subsidiary of Canada-based Lundin Mining Corp.

From its 150-acre surface site in Yellow Dog Plains in western MarquetteCounty, the mine accesses its ore body via a mile-long decline tunnel. Ore is removed using the long-hole stope mining method, which mines horizontal spaces, then backfills before mining the remaining spaces.

Next, the ore is transported nearly 60 miles to the Humboldt mill in Champion, Mich., which was a brownfield site first used for iron processing during 1950-1980. After it was closed, the mill sat idle for many years before undergoing a $275-million reclamation and renovation, bringing it back into operation in 2014.