Make a penny, steal a penny

Michigan State Roundup

Published November 1, 2008  | November 2008 issue

The Keweenaw Land Association and Orvana Minerals Corp. of Toronto announced a deal in September to restart copper mining operations in the U.P. It will do so in the vicinity of the region’s last working copper mine, the White Pine Mine in the northwestern U.P., which was shuttered in 1996.

Orvana has a 20-year lease for mineral rights on 771 acres, along with an option to lease additional land. The company has said in local media reports that it expects to spend $50 million for environmental studies and other work, with the hope of having the property under development within three or four years.

The underlying driver is the price of copper, which has risen from about 85 cents per pound in 2003 to $4 per pound earlier this year. The spike has spurred a rash of copper-seeking thefts in the U.P. and elsewhere. To stem the thefts, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, who represents the U.P., introduced a bill in September to require scrap-metal dealers to document copper transactions and disallow any cash transactions over $500.

Ronald A. Wirtz