The Kennecott Flambeau Mine Process Documents

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Mining permit application for the Flambeau project
Mining permit application for the Flambeau project

The Kennecott Flambeau Mine process documents provide researchers access to the documents that relate to the permit process for the mine. Approximately 25 documents describe the mine and its natural and cultural environments. The documents contain numerous color maps and illustrations. Access to approx. 130 drawings from a series of original blueprints will be available in the near future.

All the materials in this collection were made available to the citizens of Wisconsin at the Ladysmith Public Library during the life of the mine. They were donated to the Kurt F. Wendt Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison after the mine closed. Wendt Library holds the print copies.

This summary of the history of the mine and the permit process is based on the web site “Reclaimed Flambeau Mine” by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

Beginning in 1974, Kennecott Minerals Company initiated the process to obtain a mining permit in accordance with the newly adopted Metallic Mining Reclamation Act. The project as proposed in the mid-1970s involved mining the ore body in two phases, an 11-year open pit phase followed by an 11-year underground mining operation.

Flambeau Mining Company, a subsidiary of Kennecott Minerals Company, formally restarted the permitting process for the project in 1987, starting a three year process of baseline data gathering, negotiations with local communities, and project design and review.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project in early 1990 and the permit hearing was held during the summer. The independent hearing examiner issued all necessary permits in January 1991 and construction of the project site began in July 1991.

Ore shipments from the site began in May 1993 and continued for just over 4 years. Backfilling of the pit took about 1.5 years and reclamation activities at the site were generally completed by the end of 1999.

The 181-acre mining site located about one mile south of Ladysmith, Wisconsin, is bounded on the east by State Highway 27 and on the west by the Flambeau River.

The Flambeau deposit existed at very shallow depth. Depth to bedrock at the mining site ranged from about 15-40 feet. Glacial sand, gravel and till overlaid sporadically occurring Cambrian sandstone which in turn sat above the weathered pre-Cambrian metamorphic rocks containing the Flambeau deposit.

Mining of this shallow ore body was accomplished through a 32-acre open pit. The pit trended in a northeast-southwest direction and was 2,600 feet long, about 550 feet in width, and reached an ultimate depth of about 220 feet.

Over the course of the mining operation, about 1.9 million tons of ore containing about 8.9% copper and 0.10 ounces of gold per ton were mined and shipped from the site. The mine produced about 178,000 tons of marketable copper and 328,000 ounces of gold.

The approved Reclamation Plan for the Flambeau Project specified that the open pit, upon completion of mining, would be completely backfilled with original rock material that was separated from the ore (waste rock and glacial overburden). Reclamation of the pit began in early 1997 and was completed in late 1998.