Gold, copper in Wisconsin: Canadian company plans exploratory drilling

Armed with an exploratory license, a Canadian mining company appears to be moving ahead with plans to drill for possible gold and copper in north-central Wisconsin.

GreenLight Metals, of Toronto, has also filed technical reports with Canadian authorities that say the Reef and Bend deposits in Taylor and Marathon counties have "economic interest" that warrant further exploration.

The Bend deposit, located within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Taylor County, contains 4 million tons of mostly copper and gold, Wisconsin Public Radio News reported. The Reef deposit, which is roughly 12 miles east of Wausau in Marathon County, contains around 454,000 tons of gold reserves.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokesman Ben Callan said the company needs more approvals before it begins drilling.

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"They would have to take another step of filing a notice of intent with the department," said Callan. "Then, in that submittal, they would detail what their plan is."

Callan said the company plans to collect updated information on wetlands and surrounding habitat during the growing season that would be incorporated into its plan. Additional permits might be necessary.

Metals like gold and copper haven’t been mined in Wisconsin since the Flambeau mine shut down in 1997. The mine served as a catalyst for the state’s sulfide mining moratorium that was repealed in 2017 under a law passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature.

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The moratorium required companies to prove other mines operated and then were closed for 10 years without causing environmental harm.

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