Lawmaker’s view: PolyMet will revitalize Iron Range – by Senator Dave Brown (Duluth News Tribune – September 26, 2013)

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the proposed PolyMet mine site near Hoyt Lakes. PolyMet would like to reopen a former taconite mine for copper and nickel. Not knowing much about the mining industry in general, I was curious about the new jobs, tax revenue and other opportunities that could be generated for the state.

The staff members at PolyMet are lifelong Iron Rangers proud of their northern Minnesota mining heritage. They are avid outdoors enthusiasts who enjoy hunting, fishing and frequent trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. PolyMet has put together an experienced mining staff with strong and loyal employees who represent the best of Minnesota.

Refurbishing the PolyMet site will cost about $475 million and take about 2 million working hours. This is about the same as building Target Field, the new baseball stadium in Minneapolis. New jobs will be for carpenters, laborers, operating engineers and teamsters. Once the buildings and equipment are repaired and refurbished, the plant will have about 360 jobs that will pay $26 to $32 per hour year-round, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Over the 20-year life of this proposed project, it is estimated to generate $720 million in wages and benefits, $300 million in state and local government taxes and $10.3 billion for St. Louis County.

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Tribes critical of PolyMet’s draft on mining impact – by Marshall Helmberger (Timberjay – September 18, 2013) [Northeast Minnesota]

REGIONAL – Tribal authorities cooperating in the preparation of PolyMet Mining’s supplemental environmental impact statement are expressing fundamental disagreements with key science and conclusions in the 1,800-page preliminary draft document. In addition, they are challenging the longstanding claim by lead agencies and mining supporters that Minnesota has and maintains strict enforcement of environmental rules pertaining to operating mines in the state.

The lengthy tribal comments, provided by the Fond du Lac Band as well as the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, or GLIFWC, appear to have played a role in the latest delay in the expected release of the draft EIS. The report had been scheduled for release in early September, but officials overseeing the project now say the draft version will be released in late November.

The report also faced significant critique by some officials within the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for a large number of errors. Those DNR comments will likely lead to changes before the draft report is issued in November. Some of the tribal comments may lead to changes, but in other cases, those comments will be incorporated into a dissenting view that’s expected to be included in an appendix to the study.

The extensive comment provided by a number of agencies was not unexpected, according to Steve Colvin, the DNR’s Deputy Director for Ecological and Water Resources.

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Nolan, U.S. House vote for quicker mining permits – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – September 19, 2013)

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan joined with other mining supporters Wednesday when the U.S. House passed legislation to streamline federal environmental permitting for mining projects.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan joined with other mining supporters Wednesday when the U.S. House passed legislation to streamline environmental permitting for mining projects on federal lands.

The Bill, HF 761, called the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013, passed the Republican-controlled House by a 246 to 178 vote.

The bill declares most new mining projects as strategic for the nation, speeds up the federal agency review process and restricts efforts to file lawsuits to stop such projects. The bill essentially sets a 30-month limit for environmental review and a 60-day limit for any challenges.

Nolan, D-Crosby, was one of only 15 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill. He had said in recent weeks that he was undecided on the bill, and opponents of faster-paced mining projects in Minnesota bombarded Nolan with calls to vote no.

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In response: Mining essential to keep the economy running – by Arthur E. Englund (Duluth News Tribune – September 12, 2013)

As a 56-year member of the Society of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, I feel a response is necessary to the Aug. 23 commentary, “What the metals-mining lobbyist left out of column speaks volumes.” The commentary opposing copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, without realizing it, actually cited the need for these mines. By enumerating the number of visitors to Ely (700,000 per year), the number of Boundary Waters visitors (250,000 per year) and the number of deer hunters in Minnesota (600,000) the column actually endorsed the need.

How do all of those visitors and hunters get to those recreational areas? Most likely they go in their cars and trucks and not by horse and buggy. And of course, as most everyone knows, a large amount of Earth-based minerals goes into the manufacturing of those vehicles — and it takes mined petroleum to fuel them.

The Society of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers has as its slogan, “If it can’t be grown, it has to be mined.” This is an irrefutable fact. Test it for yourself. It is not an assumption like the opponents’ that rivers and waters will be polluted by the proposed mines. Regulations and restrictions developed over years in conjunction with the latest available science and technology will provide necessary safeguards to prevent pollution.

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New high grade zone drilled on Duluth base and precious metals complex – by Lawrence Williams ( – September 5, 2013)

New drill holes on the Twin Metals Minnesota Maturi deposit on the massive Duluth metallurgical complex indicate the presence of yet another high grade nickel-copper zone.

LONDON (MINEWEB) – In what Duluth Metals CEO, Chris Dundas, described in an email to Mineweb as yet another ‘exciting’ piece of news, the company has reported that a new high grade zone of nickel-copper mineralisation has been intersected on the southern edge of its Maturi deposit within the Duluth/Antofagasta Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) project in north eastern Minnesota, USA.

The Duluth Complex possibly contains the world’s largest undeveloped polymetallic resource containing nickel, copper, cobalt, platinum, palladium, gold and more. It is somewhat comparable in size to the Sudbury nickel complex in Canada, Norilsk in Russia and the Bushveld Compex in South Africa as massive bodies containing huge amounts of strategic metals, but these others are already being worked extensively. The Duluth Complex is believed to contain the world’s third largest nickel resource and the second largest concentration of copper and platinum group metals.

Duluth Metals with TMM is one of the biggest concession holders in the area, if not the biggest, having acquired Franconia in 2011, although PolyMet is perhaps more advanced towards production with the smaller, but still significant-sized, NorthMet project on another part of the Complex, while Teck is among other companies which are looking at other areas there.

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Mining opponents: You think you know Ely’s needs? – by Joe Baltich (Minneapolis Star Tribune – August 31, 2013)

Joe Baltich lives near Ely, Minn.

These days, everybody has a lot to say about mining, tourism and the northern Minnesota economy. Many from the Twin Cities area oppose an underground copper-mining proposal near Ely and have been trying to stop the project in its tracks.

One of their reasons for doing so is well-intended — they want to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The second reason is more self-serving — they want to protect it for whenever the day comes that they decide to pay a visit.

I felt that it is time someone actually from Ely explained our reality. We want to protect the BWCA all the time, and we also want to be a viable, vibrant community. It is hard to do that with outside forces trying to stifle economic activity. I was recently asked by a Twin Cities resident to sign an anti-mining petition. Here is a condensed version of the letter I sent in reply:

The whole town of Ely is economically collapsing. Last year, 156 people were in the obituaries, and the New Year’s baby was born on Feb. 10. Resort bookings for May and June were substantially off, and I’m pretty sure they will be down for July and August.

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Mining projects on Range can be safe, profitable – by Rolf Westgard (St. Cloud Times – August 17, 2013) 

This is the opinion of Rolf Westgard, a professional member of the Geological Society of America. He teaches classes on energy subjects for the University of Minnesota Lifelong Learning program.

In 2011, we humans extracted and burned some 15 billion tons of coal, oil and natural gas, or 4,000 pounds for everyone on Earth. That put more than 30 billion tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Nature passed over Minnesota on its way to states such as North Dakota and Texas where it placed the sedimentary basins in which fossil fuels such as oil formed. Minnesota was not totally forgotten, and we got minerals such as iron ore and the non-ferrous group of copper, nickel, cobalt, palladium, platinum, etc. We’ve dug up most of the iron. But nestled in a wide band, meandering along the Archean granite of the Iron Range, is a world-class deposit of non-ferrous metals worth billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

Total world annual production of those metals is just 30 pounds or so per person, and their demand and price is rising. Manufacturing wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, catalytic converters and smart grid power lines requires copper, nickel, cobalt, palladium and platinum. 

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Don’t allow sulfide mining without answers to concerns – by Paul Austin, Paul Dancic and Scott Strand (Duluth News Tribune – August 18, 2013) 

Paul Austin of Minneapolis is executive director of Conservation Minnesota, Paul Danicic of Minneapolis is executive director of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness and Scott Strand of St. Paul is executive director of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. They wrote this for the News Tribune on behalf of the grass-roots group Mining Truth (, which is promoting the four questions discussed in the commentary.

Water is written into our state’s identity: We are the Land of 10,000 Lakes. What we do to protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers today will determine what future we leave for our children and grandchildren.

Later this summer, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Department of Natural Resources will be faced with an important decision about the future of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers. The new draft environmental impact statement for the PolyMet mining project near Hoyt Lakes is expected to be released, and the Dayton administration will have to decide how or whether the project should proceed.

The PolyMet project is the first proposed sulfide mine in Minnesota, located near waters that flow into Lake Superior. Another proposed mine by Twin Metals would operate next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Sulfide mining is different from our traditional iron mining and holds the potential for long-lasting toxic pollution. 

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Rigorous standards will ensure clean mines – by Frank Ongaro (Duluth News Tribune – August 18, 2013)

Frank Ongaro is executive director of Duluth-based MiningMinnesota (, which supports the development of metals mining in the state.

From President Obama to Gov. Mark Dayton, elected officials have made jobs a top priority. In Minnesota, one thing is certain: There is no better opportunity for creating thousands of great-paying jobs, providing millions of dollars in tax revenue for local governments and generating more than $2 billion in royalties for our schools than the proposed copper/nickel strategic metals mineral development projects.

Mining already represents 30 percent of our region’s Gross Domestic Product (tourism is 11 percent). And, with the development of these strategic metals projects, we easily can double the size and benefit of the overall mining industry in Minnesota.

Fortunately, we can have these jobs and the spin-off economic benefits they bring — and an environment with clean air and water. There is no debate. We all want the same thing: clean air and clean water. 

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Mining industry’s view: Let mining boost state manufacturing – by Hal Quinn (Duluth News Tribune – August 11, 2013)

Hal Quinn is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Mining Association (, which advocates on behalf of America’s mining and minerals resources.

The economy is a top concern for state manufacturers who question whether Minnesota is a competitive state in which to do business, according to findings from Enterprise Minnesota’s fifth-annual “State of Manufacturing” report released in July.

The economy is a top concern for state manufacturers who question whether Minnesota is a competitive state in which to do business, according to findings from Enterprise Minnesota’s fifth-annual “State of Manufacturing” report released in July. Chief among the features state officials should be touting to anxious industry leaders is Minnesota’s vast mineral wealth, which — through sound reform of the federal mine-permitting process — could provide manufacturers with ready, reliable access to the raw materials upon which they rely.

That’s not to say there aren’t already thousands of Minnesotans working to develop some key state resources. Last year, more than $4.5 billion worth of minerals were produced in Minnesota, minerals crucial to high-tech devices, electro-medical equipment, advanced-energy components, defense technologies and infrastructure.

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Building facilities, building a work force, building a mine – by Anna Kurth (Hibbing Daily Tribune – July 30, 2013)

Essar Steel Minnesota’s place in iron industry secure

NASHWAUK — For officials at Essar Steel, mining in Minnesota is all about location. Locating on the Iron Range provides immediate access to the rail lines and utilities necessary to mine and transport their product and employees with the skills they’re seeking.

Building a new plant also provides the advantage of mining next door to the facility, which allows Essar Steel to be in the first-quartile of low-cost producers, said Ken Kinsey, chief of operations. A large portion of mining costs come from mining operations — equipment and employees, he said. Essar Steel will start operations needing less of both.

Other mines first built their primary crusher right on the doorstep of the mine. But during decades of mining, operations have migrated and haul distances have increased. Now Essar will benefit from mining on its crusher’s doorstep.

“We’ve put our plant on the north side of the ore body so it doesn’t encumber any iron ore resources,” Kinsey said, adding that the plant is positioned so mining will start where stripping is lowest.

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[Minnesota] Mine study still a resource – by Charles Ramsay (Mesabi Daily News – July 30, 2013)

Document a framework for how future of industry might look

The update came out in early February. The main author, Jim Skurla, director of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics’ Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Minnesota Duluth, noted in a recent phone interview from Duluth that while the worldwide economy and its need for steel “had slowed down a bit” recently, especially in China, it didn’t necessarily indicate a decline in demand for the metal.

“It really was red hot there for awhile,” he said of the world economy, but its steel demand has continued to be “cyclical.”

The study found, in the 2010 data, that Northeastern Minnesota’s mining industry made up 30 percent of the region’s economy, down from 33 percent found by the original study done with 2007 data. The newer iron mining operations, as well as the possibilities with the non-ferrous mining operations, project almost a doubling of workers and revenues in mining if all projects advance.

Iron mining had an impact of about $3 billion to the state’s economy in the 2010 data, with 3,900 employees directly involved and a total of 11,000 employees, including miners, directly or indirectly employed with suppliers or resulting from additional household spending. For every mining job in the industry, another 1.8 jobs are created directly or indirectly, the study found.

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All Minnesota has stake in mining debate – West Central Tribune Editorial (July 31, 2013)

Northeast Minnesota has a natural attraction of wild land and clear water that draws tourists from Duluth to Ely to Grand Marias. The region also contains valuable ore that created a mining industry that helped develop the region and Minnesota

More than a dozen companies are exploring northeastern Minnesota for copper, nickel, gold and other precious metals. Mining officials claim that hard rock mining can now be done safely and with little or no environmental impact. Many citizens are looking forward to a possible new mining industry and the resulting economic growth.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about the prospect of this new mining. Mining critics point to similar operations in the western United States that have polluted many streams, rivers and lakes with acidic runoff. The mining issue is dividing communities in the region as the debate grows over mining potential and possible dangers.

All in Minnesota have an interest in the prospect of mining and the protection of natural resources in northeast Minnesota. Both the precious metal ores and other natural resources of the region are part of Minnesota’s legacy.

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Twin Metals Minnesota: Building the state’s Mining Future – by Bob McFarin (Mesabi Daily News – July 31, 2013)

Bob McFarin is vice president of public and government affairs of Twin Metals Minnesota.

Just over 150 years ago, people came to northern Minnesota in search of gold. Instead, they found a more enduring, but no less valuable resource — iron ore. The rest, of course, is history — Minnesota history shaped by generations of entrepreneurial, daring and hard-working “Iron Rangers.”

Good paying jobs, the ability to raise a family, vibrant communities, quality education and stewardship of the wilderness and environment — these are the past and present values and aspirations that define more than a century of mining throughout Minnesota’s Iron Range.

Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) is excited to be joining Minnesota’s proud mining heritage. Working in partnership with local communities and state and federal regulators, TMM is pursuing the development and operation of an underground mining project that will be one of the world’s largest sources of copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and gold.

These critical metals are necessary components of myriad products, from simple to complex, that support a modern quality of life —

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NEWS RELEASE: Duluth Metals Provides Metallurgical Update on Twin Metals Minnesota Project

July 18, 2013

  • Positive results from various metallurgical options considered for the Twin Metals Minnesota Project
  • Good metal recoveries to both a bulk concentrate and to separate copper (~25% Cu, <1% Ni) and nickel (~10% Ni, <5% Cu) concentrates were achieved during recent pilot plant programs;
  • Good metal extraction from bulk concentrate using the CESLTM process;
  • Good recoveries of gold and platinum group elements from CESLTM residues by sulfur flotation.

TORONTO, Ontario, July 18, 2013 – Duluth Metals Limited (“Duluth Metals”) (TSX: DM) (TSX: DM.U) is pleased to announce significant progress on various metallurgical options being considered during pre-feasibility on the Twin Metals Minnesota Project (“Twin Metals”). Some of the most recent test results from an ongoing comprehensive metallurgical testwork program aimed at defining the optimal process flowsheet for the recovery of copper, nickel, gold, platinum, and palladium to payable products are summarized below. This metallurgical testwork program involved mineralogical assessments, laboratory bench scale testing, and pilot plant testing with independent laboratories.

The metallurgical testwork included flotation programs to develop and prove two separate flotation options: the first being the option to produce a bulk copper-nickel concentrate; and the second option being to produce a marketable copper concentrate and a marketable nickel concentrate.

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