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Powell, Patricia (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review: new mining era comes to Wisconsin
Volume 28, Number 1 (December 1981)

Wisconsin's principal metal deposits,   pp. 10-13


Page 12


Jackson County Iron Company:
Black River Falls Mine
(Editor's Note: the following description
of this mine, Wisconsin's only active
metal mine, is taken from the Environ-
mental Impact Assessment Screening
Worksheet prepared by Gordon H. Reinke,
chief of the Mine Reclamation Branch,
Wisconsin Department of Natural Re-
sources in November 1980. The mine
started taconite production in 1969. Jack-
son County Iron Company is a wholly
owned subsidiary of Inland Steel Co.)
  The Black River Falls Mine comprises
an open pit taconite (low grade iron ore)
mine which produces about 6,850 tons of
ore and 16,650 tons of waste per day and
an adjacent magnetic concentrator which
processes the ore into taconite pellets (of
about 65 percent iron) and finely ground
waste (tailings). The concentrator pro-
duces about 2,400 tons of taconite pellets
per day which are shipped daily by rail
from the concentrator site to the Inland
Steel Company's (JCIC's parent com-
pany) blast furnaces at their Indiana
Harbor Works, East Chicago, Indiana,
usually 28-32 cars daily. Estimated crude
ore reserves at the mine as of January 1,
1981, are 22,884,000 tons. JCIC projec-
tions are that this ore should last until
mid- 1990.
  JCIC owns and/or controls 12,868.65
acres in the mine area. The actual mining
site for which a permit is being sought is
1,235 acres. Major existing components
on the site are the open pit, the tailings
pond, the concentrator plant and office,
waste rock piles, and a railroad siding.
The pit is at its maximum surface dis-
turbance, and at the surface maximum
dimensions are 4,000 feet long, 2,000 feet
wide with a total disturbed surface area
of 139.5 acres. Total depth upon comple-
tion of mining will be about 730 feet. The
tailings pond is also at its maximum sur-
face disturbance of about 320 acres and
will be about 62 feet high when completed.
Acreage of the waste rock pile is as fol-
lows: No. 1 = 81 acres, No.2 = 257 acres,
No. 3 = 49 acres.
  The reclamation plan accompanying
the permit application proposes that upon
completion of mining, and to the extent
possible during the mining operation, all
disturbed areas will be graded and reveg-
etated with species acceptable to the
DNR. When the operation is completed,
if no use acceptable to the DNR is found,
the buildings and foundations will be re-
moved, and the building site, roads, rail-
road right-of-way, and all other disturbed
Aerial photograph of Black River Falls Mine and related facilities, Jackson
County, Wisconsin.
areas will be revegetated. All settling and
seepage ponds will be filled with waste
rock, graded, and revegetated. Revege-
tation of the waste rock piles and tailings
pound, which is ongoing, will be com-
pleted. Unconsolidated upper portions of
the pit walls will be graded and revege-
tated, and the pit itself will be allowed
to fill with water. Ultimate use of the
area, as long as it remains under JCIC
ownership, is for wildlife habitat and light
recreational use, with the pit lake com-
pletely fenced and access to it denied.
However, the pit will be reclaimed in such
a manner that future recreational use by
other owners will not be precluded.
  The pit will fill to a point approxi-
mately 60 feet below the general ground
surface. Water quality of the pit will
largely reflect that of the groundwater
which in general is of higher quality than
the surface waters because it has not been
affected by the decaying organic matter
of the surrounding swampy area. The east
end of the pit will be graded so that some
future owner would be able to provide
boat access if it was desired to use the
lake for recreational purposes.
  In 1981, the company will employ 319
workers with an annual payroll of $8,
000,000 plus $3,000,000 fringe benefits.
Kennecott Copper Corporation:
Flambeau Deposit
(Editor's Note: This deposit was discov-
ered in 1968 just south of Ladysmith,
Rusk County, Wisconsin. Averaging about
4 percent copper over reserves estimated
at 6 million tons, this deposit was pro-
posed for development in the mid-1970s.
The hearing on the mining permit appli-
cation in November 1976 was suspended
and eventually all permit applications
were dropped. Plans to develop the Flam-
beau deposit are still pending, however.
The following fact summary of the pre-
viously proposed mine development is
taken from Volume 1, Preliminary En-
vironmental Impact Report for Mining
the Flambeau Copper Deposit, Rusk
County, Wisconsin, p. 11-2 and II-3,
1974.)
Fact Summary
These are the essentials of the mining
operation being considered:
* Mining method: Open pit followed pos-
  sibly by an underground operation.
* Deposit description: A steeply inclined
  massive/semimassive sulfide deposit,
  averaging 50 feet wide, 2,400 feet long,
  bottoming at 800 feet below surface.
12/Wisconsin Academy Review/December 1981


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