Quincy Reclamation Plant

“As copper prices dropped and milling technology improved, mine companies began to take a second look at these copper bearing deposits in Torch Lake. It was now possible – and economically advantageous – for mines to retrieve those tailings and remove the copper that they still contained. The process was known as reclamation, and was first undertaken in earnest by C&H around 1920. Towards that end C&H built itself a dredge that could suck up those sands from the lake bottom and send them out to the reclamation plant on shore. This first dredge – known as C&H Dredge No. 1 – would be responsible for retrieving over 48 million tons of C&H sands in its lifetime, yielding over 423 million pounds of copper for the company.

The Quincy Mine got into the reclamation game several decades later – in 1943 – after failing to make a profit on its underground operation. In 1953 the C&H Dredge No. 1 was bought by Quincy to supplement its own dredge. It turned out to be exceptional foresight, as Quincy’s first dredge ended up sinking in Torch Lake in 1956. Its roof top can still be seen sticking up from the center of the lake. As for Quincy Dredge No. 2, it continued to mine Torch Lake for several more decades until it too sank in 1967.”

The Reclamation Plant (p2)

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In addition to the leaching and floatation processes a typical reclamation plant utilized two other types of machines in its efforts to reclaim lost copper – Ball Mills and Wilfley Tables. Wilfley tables were a local favorite in the Lake Superior copper region, and were already installed in most stamp …

The Reclamation Plant (p1)

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While the machines and equipment used in copper mills may have changed and evolved over the decades, the process itself remained relatively unchanged. Machines – first gravity powered and later driven by steam – would crush the copper bearing rock down into a fine gravel after which a series of …

The Shore Plant

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The Quincy Reclamation Plant was in fact two plants in one. The main plant sat up on shore, and was home to the series of ball mills, Wilfley tables, and floatation tanks used in the actual reclamation process. Responsibility for getting the stamp sands to that plant belonged to a …

Rails On Water

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After having been sucked up from the lake bottom by the dredge, stamp sands were then sent down along the pontoon line to shore to began the reclamation process. From our vantage point out near the old pontoon line we could see in the distance the bleached white remains of …

Crates in the Sand

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Making our way from the sunken dredge we embarked on a long journey across the Quincy stamp sands towards the Reclamation Plant. Like most other sand deposits in the region these have been recently “rehabilitated” by the government – essentially covering the sands with dirt and planting various types of …

The Mining of Torch Lake

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The archaic Quincy stamp mill Early stamp methodology was a very simple and archaic one – nothing more than a simple process of smashing rock down into small pieces and sorting out the copper. Everything that remained would then be dumped into tailing ponds as waste. In the Copper Country …