The Republic Mine is the reason the town of Republic was created in 1871. Government land surveyors first noted the mineral deposit in 1846 when surveying township lines in the area. Early mining exploration began in 1854 along the Michigamme River. Numerous mines were opened, but only the Republic Mine was a long-term profitable venture.
The Republic Iron Company was formed in 1870, and the Mine opened in 1871, operating as an underground mine. The Republic Iron Company operated the mine until 1913. The Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company took ownership of the underground mine in 1914 and operated it until 1926 or 1928 (I've seen both dates) when demand for ore dropped, and the mine was closed. The mine did ship from stockpiles in 1937. The underground mine shaft was 2910 feet deep.
Cliffs began a huge expansion program at the mine in the 1950s, transitioning to an open-pit mine, and producing pelletized ore. The mine's expansion led to the moving of several sections of Republic to a site about three miles south, known today as South Republic. Between 1955 and 1973, about 90 homes were moved, and others were demolished.
As the depth of the pit increased, a primary crusher was installed at the bottom of the pit to increase efficiency. Ore was trucked to the crusher where it was reduced to chunks less than six inches in size. A 2,814 foot conveyor moved the crushed ore 647 vertical feet to the processing plant at the top of the pit. The plant further ground the ore, removed waste matter, and produced marble-sized pellets. Pellets were transported by rail by the Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad (LS&I) to Marquette and Escanaba, then shipped on ore carriers throughout the Great Lakes area.
The Republic Mine was closed permanently in 1981 due to high production costs. In the late 1990s, CCI began removing equipment and demolishing the buildings, and flooding the pit. The old tailings basin was cleaned up and designated as a wetlands preserve. The mine's pit is 600 feet deep with a surface area of 250 acres. The mine site has a total area of four square miles. While operational, the annual production was 2.7 million tons of pellets of specular hematite.
Other Republic Mine photos from various locations around the mine property, taken 1998-2004.
Another site with some information on the Republic Mine.
The Republic mine on Showcaves.com
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Last Updated: 5/21/04