MEDC proposes $50m grant for Highland’s Copperwood project

2nd February 2024 By: Creamer Media Reporter

Following a yearlong review of the permitted Copperwood project, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has proposed a $50-million grant, Canadian company Highland Copper said this week.

MEDC, alongside Highland, presented the project to the board of the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) for grant consideration.

The MSF is the first level of approval, followed by final approval at the appropriations committees in both the Michigan House and Senate.

“Highland Copper is thrilled to be in consideration for a $50-million grant from the state of Michigan for our Copperwood project. We had the opportunity to discuss the project yesterday [January 30] with the MSF board, from whom approval is required. The MSF board had a range of questions that we look forward to addressing over the coming period in anticipation of a successful outcome,” stated Highland interim CEO Barry O’Shea.

“We believe the economic impact of the project will be transformational for the Upper Peninsula and we are thankful for the unwavering support from the local communities.”

The Copperwood project is strongly aligned with Michigan’s focus on mobility and electrification and has the potential to be a key source of US domestic copper to supply the ongoing clean energy transition.

The Copperwood project team has been present in the Western Upper Peninsula for over a decade, working through the state-led permitting process with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and leading to the announcement of the project’s fully permitted status in early 2023.

In addition, through ongoing regular and transparent communications with local stakeholders, the project has garnered strong local support. Over 20 local villages, cities, townships and counties as well as numerous local businesses and organizations submitted resolutions and letters of support that accompanied the project’s application for the state grant. A number of the elected officials were present alongside Highland Copper at the MSF board meeting on Tuesday to demonstrate support for the project on behalf of their respective government units.

Once in operation, the contribution of the Copperwood project to the local economy will be transformative, providing about 380 well-paying jobs, as well as substantial direct, indirect and induced economic benefits from additional spending in an area that has suffered from industry closures in the past decades. Mining has been a part of the Upper Peninsula’s economic fabric since the nineteenth century and remains as important as ever.