Is sustainable mining possible? The EV revolution depends on it. – by Evan Halper (Washington Post – August 11, 2022)

A proposal for a ‘sustainable mine’ in Minnesota has the backing of Tesla. But will it win over the community?

TAMARACK, Minn. — Electric cars are still rare in this marshy stretch of central Minnesota, where it is more common to pass a flock of wild turkeys on the country roads than a Nissan Leaf.

But the region could have an outsize impact on America’s transition to zero-emission vehicles. Tamarack, sitting atop a treasure trove of metal used to power electric cars, is fast becoming a test case of whether the auto industry can meet this critical climate moment by sourcing colossal amounts of battery materials domestically and sustainably.

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PolyMet and Teck form JV to develop Minnesota mining projects – by Ernest Scheyder (Reuters – July 20, 2022)

PolyMet Mining Corp (POM.TO) and Teck Resources Ltd (TECKb.TO) said on Wednesday they will form a joint venture to develop their Minnesota copper and nickel mining projects.

The new company, known as NewRange Copper Nickel LLC, will share costs to develop the two proposed mines, which aim to produce metals used to make electric vehicles and other green technologies.

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Proposal to ban mining near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters sets off battle in Congress – by Jacob Fischler (Iowa Capital Dispatch – May 30, 2022)


A proposal to ban mining near the most popular wilderness area in the country is dividing members of Congress along party lines following President Joe Biden’s decision earlier this year to block federal approval of a new mine.

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee said last week they supported Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill to permanently protect nearly a quarter-million acres of Superior National Forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the polluting byproducts of mining for nickel, cobalt, copper and other minerals.

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Opinion: Is This a Mine Elon Musk and Joe Biden Can Both Support? – by Adam Minter (Bloomberg – May 9, 2022)

A Minnesota project has to overcome tribal and environmental concerns. But the U.S. needs its own source of nickel, which is key to electric-vehicle expansion.

The future of US-made electric-vehicle batteries might be found in a modest white shed in Tamarack, Minnesota, population 104.

Beneath bright fluorescent lights, foot-long cylindrical pieces of rock are laid out in cardboard boxes, where they sparkle with grains found in the millions of pounds of nickel that Tesla Inc. committed to buy on Jan. 11. That commitment has the potential to turn into a savvy buy for the electric carmaker.

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EPA deals fresh blow to PolyMet’s $1 billion copper-nickel mine – by Editor ( – May 5, 2022)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dealt a fresh blow to PolyMet Mining’s (TSX: POM) plans to build an open pit copper-nickel mine in Minnesota, by recommending the US Army Corps of Engineers not re-issue a key water-related permit.

The agency said this week the $1 billion NorthMet project, the first large-scale project to be permitted within the Duluth Complex in northeastern Minnesota, risked increasing levels of mercury and other pollutants in the St. Louis River downstream from the proposed mine.

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How the invasion of Ukraine became part of the debate over copper-nickel mining in northern Minnesota – by Walker Orenstein (Minn Post – March 14, 2022)

Companies and governments around the world have pulled out of Russia after the country invaded Ukraine last month, and the war has even sparked lawmakers in Minnesota to consider divesting state pension funds from companies tied to Russia in the midst of the humanitarian crisis. The Russian invasion has also now raised questions about Minnesota’s mining industry.

Both supporters and opponents of two potential copper-nickel mines have used the war in Ukraine to underscore their stances on the projects. Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, an advocacy group opposing Toronto-based PolyMet Mining’s project near Hoyt Lakes, says Russia’s attacks are just one more reason the mine should be stopped. That’s because, in part, PolyMet’s majority owner has business ties with Russia.

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After Twin Metals mining lease cancellation, Ely residents weigh future – by Christa Lawler and Jennifer Bjorhus (Star Tribune – January 30, 2022)

ELY, Minn. — This northwoods town is quiet and closed up for the winter — no throngs of tourists, the snowy streets largely empty. But there’s a range of emotions running among residents from hope and excitement to angry defiance.

The Biden administration’s decision last week to cancel the leases for the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine marked another dramatic turn in a dispute that has roiled this Iron Range community for decades: Does mining play a role in its future or is it firmly in the past?

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Biden Administration Cancels Mining Leases Near Wilderness Area – by Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times – January 26, 2022)

The leases, reinstated during the Trump years, would have allowed a Chilean mining conglomerate to dig for copper and nickel near the Boundary Waters wilderness in Minnesota.

The Biden administration said Wednesday that it had canceled two mining leases that would have allowed a copper mine to be built near an area of pristine wilderness in Minnesota.

The Interior Department said it had determined that the leases, held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of the Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, were improperly reinstated by the Trump administration in 2019.

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What a Tesla Deal Might Mean for the Tamarack Mining Project in Northern Minnesota – by Walker Orenstein (Twin Cities Business – January 20, 2022)


One of the selling points for several proposed copper and nickel mines in Minnesota has been that the metal can help power green technology like solar panels, electric vehicles and windmills. But that possibility has always been somewhat hypothetical, or at least hard to quantify for the controversial projects.

PolyMet Mining says metal from its proposed mine near Hoyt Lakes would be a commodity sold on a world market. But while there is high demand for things like EV batteries, there is no guarantee how much, if any, of the product would be used for domestic green technology.

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Editorial Counterpoint: Assault on mining harms all Minnesota, America – by Kelly Osborne (Star Tribune – October 31, 2021)

Kelly Osborne is chief executive, Twin Metals Minnesota.

The Star Tribune Editorial Board recently lauded the federal government’s announcement that it would be reinitiating a mineral withdrawal study on nearly a quarter-million acres of land in northeast Minnesota that could lead to a 20-year ban on mining in this area (“A win for Boundary Waters Stewardship,” Oct. 25).

The question I pose to the board, to our nation’s leaders and to mining opponents is this: Do you value smartphones, medical technology, clean energy solutions, broadband, electricity, roads, buildings and infrastructure? If you’re like most common-sense Americans and answered unequivocally yes, then do you realize that the hardworking people of the mining industry produce the raw materials critical to all these things?

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COMMENTARY: The humbling of giants: The rise and decline of the Iron Range — Essay – by Aaron Brown (Minnesota Reformer – September 28, 2021)


Mesabi means giant. That means that I was raised in the land of giants on the Mesabi Iron Range of northern Minnesota. In my youth, I saw those giants as the elected leaders who fought for my homeland in St. Paul and Washington, D.C.

When I was 10 I watched my grandfather, Marvin Johnson, run for the first and only time in my life. Twenty years after his body was crushed in a mining accident, he sprinted into the street to shake then-Gov. Rudy Perpich’s hand at the Keewatin Fourth of July parade. His admiration was greater than the pain.

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Judge allows DNR review of mining rules near Boundary Waters to move forward – by Jimmy Lovrien (Duluth News Tribune – May 12, 2021)

Minnesota regulators will review the state rules for copper-nickel mining within the same watershed as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness after a judge on Wednesday upheld an agreement allowing for the review and dismissed a challenge by Twin Metals, which is proposing such a mine in that watershed.

Judge Laura Nelson in State District Court in St. Paul remanded the issues to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources so it could “institute appropriate administrative proceedings to consider and make findings and issue an order regarding the alleged inadequacy” and that Twin Metals’ motion to dismiss “fails.”

The order allows a November agreement between the DNR and environmental group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness to proceed. In that, the state agency agreed to review its 1993 non-ferrous, or non-iron, mining rules to determine if it can actually protect the BWCAW from copper-nickel mining pollution in the Rainy River Watershed.

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Minnesota copper project in limbo as officials launch permits review – Cecilia Jamasmie ( – May 11, 2021)

The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has agreed to reconsider its decision to renew 13 prospecting permits in Minnesota, which could have allowed Antofagasta’s Twin Metals to expand its proposed copper-nickel mine at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The move by the federal agency, part of the US Department of the Interior, comes in response to a lawsuit filed last year by conservation groups. They challenged a four-year extension of the permits, granted by former President Donald Trump.

“After the horrendous years of the Trump administration, federal officials now appear focused on rational, science-based decision making,” Marc Fink, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

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Both sides claim victory in complicated PolyMet court ruling – by Dan Kraker (Minnesota Public Radio News – April 28, 2021)

Both sides claimed victory Wednesday after the state Supreme Court issued a complex ruling over state permits for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

Environmental groups and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa were quick to celebrate the ruling, saying the decision “hits the reset button” on the proposal, which would be the first non-iron ore mining operation built in northern Minnesota.

In a 48-page ruling, the court upheld the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ reversal of the Department of Natural Resources’ decision to grant a critical “permit to mine.” The appeals court said the state agency failed to set a fixed term for the permit and it ordered the DNR to set an appropriate term.

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Minnesota Supreme Court issues mixed opinion on PolyMet’s air permits – by Jimmy Lovrien (Duluth News Tribune – Feb 24th 2021)

Questions persist over a March 2018 report outlining potential expansion plans.

On one hand, the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court’s decision that would have sent PolyMet’s air permits back to state regulators for further review.

But on the other, it instructed a lower court to review whether PolyMet, which is trying to open the state’s first copper-nickel mine, deceived the regulators by withholding a report outlining the potential for a much larger mine.

Both opponents and supporters of PolyMet claimed victory in Wednesday’s Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Margaret Chutich.

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