The Copper Range Company was a major copper-mining company in the Copper Country of Michigan, United States. It began as the Copper Range Company in the late 1800s as a holding company specializing in shares in the copper mines south of Houghton, Michigan. The company was bought by Louisiana Land and Exploration in 1977.
Copper Range shut down the Champion mine, its last operating native copper property, in 1967.
In its early days it was known for its use of advanced mining and transport systems (not all of which worked very well) including the Dashaveyor, a high speed transportation system, and what was at the time the world's largest hard rock tunnelling machine to be sold to a mining company. It was also one of the earlier mines to use rubber tyred mining eqipment on a large scale. An interesting sidelight was that about 70% of the workforce was of Finnish descent, which in some ways was not surprising given the similarity between the countryside around the mine and rural Finland.
Louisiana Land and Exploration bought Copper Range in 1977, then sold the operation to Echo Bay Mines Limited in 1983. Echo Bay sold the operation to the employees in 1985 but kept part of the milling circuit. In this transaction 70% of the shares went into an ESOP (Employees Stock Option Plan) and the remaining 30% were held by Mine Management Resources. It was at this time that an attempt was made to obtain a stock exchange listing but it failed due to a variety of factors, including the move of mining into areas in which royalties had to be paid e.g. to AMAX in the south west area, the general decrepitude of the mining machinery and not least the start of a general crushing of the pillars and collapse in the central worked out areas which was at least partially stopped by wrapping pillars with conveyor belt and old haulage rope to stabilise them. The employees subsequently sold Copper Range to Metall Mining Corporation (shortly to rename itself Inmet Mining) in 1989. After a fruitless attempt to put the mine back into profit again, Inmet closed it in 1995. Proposals to carry on mining by sulphuric acid leaching were considered but these were shelved in 1997, the mine was allowed to flood and reclamation work started.
The refinery continues to operate, however, and is now owned by Hudbay Minerals Inc.
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