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Bend mine site to change ownership

Site has been idle since sample drilling in 2012

A long-proposed gold and copper mine could be getting new owners.

Toronto-based Aquila Resources last week announced plans to sell the “Bend” and “Reef” exploration properties located in western Taylor County and Marathon County to a private Canadian company for about $5.7 million U.S. dollars.

The sale price includes cash as well as shares in the newly formed company.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement in principle to monetize our non-core Wisconsin assets. The transaction provides Aquila with immediate cash without diluting Aquila shareholders. It also provides us with meaningful upside exposure to an exciting new exploration focused company with the resources to explore the Bend and Reef properties as Aquila focuses on the development of Back Forty,” said Guy Le Bel, president and CEO of Aquila.

The Back Forty Project is a volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit with open pit and underground potential located along the mineral rich Penokean Volcanic Belt in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Back Forty contains approximately 1.1 million ounces of gold and 1.2 billion pounds of zinc in the Measured & Indicated Mineral Resource classifications, with additional exploration upside. An optimized Feasibility Study for the Project is underway.

The Bend Site located about 19 miles north, northwest of Medford on Yellow River Road in the town of Westboro encompasses more than 5,000 acres of National Forest land. However, most of the mineral is well below grade and any mine development in the area would be subsurface with a surface disruption of about 100 to 150 acres based on the 2012 test drilling of the site. There has been little to no activity at the Bend Site since the sample drilling was done a decade ago.

Taylor County zoning administrator Kyle Noonan said his office is unaware of any additional activity taking place there, noting that whoever the owners are, they would be required to get a county permit in order to begin mining operations.

The deposit was originally discovered in 1986 and drilled in the early 1990s by the Jump River Joint Venture. The deposit is mostly copper-bearing sulfides with significant gold and minor amounts of silver in two overlapping zones, totaling an estimated 4.23 million tons of ore. Aquila Resources has obtained an exploration license from the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is in the process of re-evaluating the deposit.

The Reef Deposit is a potential high-grade gold deposit located in the town of Easton in Marathon County. The current deposit was drilled and described by Noranda Exploration in the 1970s and 1980s. The deposit was estimated to contain up to 454,000 tons of high-grade gold reserves in scattered, shallow weathered sulfides and quartz breccias. According to reports filed with the Department of Natural Resources if this deposit is developed, it would likely be an open pit mine.