Copper From New Michigan Mine Earmarked for EVs

State officials say 380 high-wage jobs will be created by the new mine in Wakefield and Ironwood townships in Gogebic County, part of a region that has long supplied the auto industry with raw materials.

Joseph Szczesny

April 24, 2024

3 Min Read
Copperwood Mine map 2
Location of planned Copperwood Mine in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula.

With help from the State of Michigan, investors are planning to sink $425 million in a new copper mine in the western Upper Peninsula to provide a mineral critical for the development of electric vehicles.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the $50 million grant to Copperwood Resources from the Michigan Strategic Site Readiness Program will grow the state’s economy and “bring supply chains home and lead the industries of the future.”

State officials say 380 high-wage jobs will be created by the new mine in Wakefield and Ironwood townships in Gogebic County, part of a region that has long supplied the auto industry with raw materials.

According to market research firm IDTechEx, all types of EVs require a substantial amount of copper. It is used in batteries, windings and copper rotors used in electric motors in addition to wiring and charging infrastructure (see diagram, below).

Copper in EVs diagram.jpg

Executives from Highland Copper, which will operate the mine, say that when it is completed the Copperwood Mine will help supply copper material critical to the mobility and clean tech industries, and bring the supply chain home to Michigan.   

“Copper has rightly been listed as a critical material, as it is imperative in today’s world,” says Marty Fittante, CEO of InvestUP, the Upper Peninsula’s leading economic development organization.

“Highland Copper’s Copperwood Mine is equally critical because of its economic impact to the western U.P. communities that need the…family-sustaining jobs the mine will bring. Further, Highland Copper’s commitment to Michigan’s stringent mining standards ensures this economic benefit doesn’t come at the expense of the environment we cherish in the Upper Peninsula,” says Fittante, who praised the work of Whitmer and state Sen. Edward McBroom, a Republican whose district comprises 12 of the U.P.’s 15 counties.

According to an economic impact study by Public Sector Consultants, the operation is projected to provide more than $15 million per year in local, county, state and federal revenue and increase business spending across the state by more than $130 million annually.

“There is a tremendous opportunity on the horizon for the Upper Peninsula, especially in the current economic climate given the increasing need for materials and the push for new technologies,” says McBroom, who lives in Waucedah Township. “Our traditional land-based industries, like U.P. mining, are ripe to partner with the technology industry and help Michigan be a part of new technologies, from the raw materials to finished products.”

Part of the mine would be located within the boundaries of Porcupine Mountains State Park, known informally as the Porkies. The Michigan Advance news site says a group opposing the mine, Protect the Porkies (pictured, below), contends the project would threaten outdoor recreation as well as wildlife, and cause air and water pollution. The group claims it has collected more than 11,000 petition signatures calling for a halt to the Copperwood Mine.


Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy says there are two active open-pit iron ore mines in Marquette County. The Upper Peninsula is the home of the only active nickel mine in the U.S.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Talon Mining a $20 million grant to look for more nickel in the Upper Peninsula. Nickel is an essential mineral input to produce high-temperature aerospace alloys, stainless steel and chemicals for the lithium-ion batteries used by EVs.

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