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Badger Minerals Plans To Begin 24-Hour Drilling In Oneida County June 1

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Badger Minerals plans to begin drilling in eastern Oneida County in less than a month, according to documents filed with the county.

The mining exploration company’s plans were just approved by the DNR, the final hurdle to commence exploratory drilling.

The firm told Oneida County 24-hour-a-day drilling near the Wolf River will begin on June 1.

Badger Minerals is a Michigan-based subsidiary of a Canadian company. It wants to learn more about what’s underground at the site in the Town of Schoepke. Buried minerals could include zinc, copper, lead, silver, and gold.

Credit Badger Minerals
Badger Minerals' revised drill-site plan.

It will be the first such drilling in Wisconsin since 2012, and the first in Oneida County since at least the 1980s.

New documents show the company reduced the number of drill sites to eight, from the original ten, and it anticipates a disturbance of 34,500 square feet. Badger Minerals is contracting with Warba, Minn.-based Taconite Drilling for the services.

The company still needs to notify the DNR it plans to start drilling, but it has all of the necessary permits, said DNR Integration Services Chief Ben Callan.

Credit Ben Meyer/WXPR
Areas near some drill sites have been freshly clear-cut of trees, but the company says the cutting is unrelated to the drilling.

The company plans to drill 24 hours a day for 18 to 25 days in June.

Credit Ben Meyer/WXPR
A log truck loads freshly-cut timber from land near the drill sites.

Eric Quigley is a geologist representing Badger Minerals. In an email to WXPR, he said there are a few seasonal homes in the area and round-the-clock drilling “shouldn’t be an unreasonable disturbance.”

The DNR’s Callan said his agency will be monitoring the work.

Credit Badger Minerals
Badger Minerals' rendering of a typical drill site.

“We want to make sure that we have eyes in the field looking at those activities to confirm compliance,” Callan said.

Quigley said, once drill cores are taken from the ground, they’ll be taken offsite for review by a geologist. Some sections will be selected for lab analysis to determine geochemistry and metal content.

Multiple drill sites are within a half-mile of the Wolf River. The river’s health has been a major concern for many opposed to mining-related activity in the area.

“The fact of the matter is that the type of project that we are proposing to do here has been completed successfully many times before,” said Quigley, pointing out it’s been done previously in Oneida County.

Credit Ben Meyer/WXPR
A bend in the Wolf River, less than a half-mile from multiple drill sites.

The company is “aware of the public concerns that have been raised,” but Quigley feels most concerns relate more to the actual mining process, not exploratory drilling.

“We feel it is a little early on in the project to begin to address mining related issues/concerns without having an adequate understanding of the geology and potential mineral deposits that may or may not exist at the site,” he said.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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