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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Sulfide mining’s jobs are temporary, but its pollution will stay in our waterways – by JT Haines, Lee Markell, Dylan Nau and Ijaz Osman (Minn Post – July 18, 2013)

Like many Minnesotans, we’ve been camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) every summer for years, several of us for a quarter century or more. Some of us used to live in the Arrowhead, but all of us share a certain unspoken feeling heading north, when deciduous turns to boreal. We appreciate that our great state can still offer us a place where you can catch a fish, and drink the water – right out of the side of a canoe! (A lotta guys don’t favor the exclamation point. Or sarcasm. But it hasn’t escaped our attention that we can no longer do either of these things in the Twin Cities, which we think merits an exception.)

Without exaggeration, we feel that the Boundary Waters enhances our humanness. The question that challenges us today is: How many places like it do we need? How many are left?

In their excellent July 7 letter to the International Joint Commission regarding sulfide mines, the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters and Anglers express their opposition to proposed sulfide mine projects in Northern Minnesota, which would leach sulfuric acid into waterways, the lifeblood of Northern Minnesota’s economy, for up to 2,000 years. The group points out, correctly, that the jobs are temporary, the bulk of the profits will flow elsewhere, and the “toxic legacy of damaged waterways” will remain with us here, in Minnesota.

We thank the Hunters and Anglers for their letter, and couldn’t agree more. It passes our understanding that we would threaten this environment at all – let alone at the demand and benefit of foreign companies and mostly non-local investors.

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Mining company expected to finish exploratory drilling this week – by The Associated Press (Green Bay Press Gazette – July 15, 2013)

MADISON — A company looking to dig a huge iron mine just south of Lake Superior is set to finish exploratory drilling, setting up a lull that could dampen tensions with protesters, at least for a while.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials say Gogebic Taconite workers should finish drilling their eighth and final test hole in the Penokee Hills within three or four days. The test boring is designed to help the company determine if mining in the area is economically feasible as well as what minerals lay within potential waste rock and the pollution risk they might pose, said Ann Coakley, director of the DNR’s waste and materials management bureau.

Gogebic Taconite officials next want to remove larger rock samples from five sites in the area, an effort known as bulk sampling. The company would haul those samples to a test plant, where they would be processed into final taconite pellets to give the company an idea of total processing time, Coakley said.

The DNR hasn’t granted a permit for that operation yet, though. Agency officials asked the company two weeks ago for more details on the plan, including what kind of explosives would be used, air emission estimates, a site wetland inventory and anti-erosion and anti-pollution measures. Coakley said the company had not responded to the request as of Monday morning.

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NEWS RELEASE: Glencore announces acquisition of 31,756,979 common shares of PolyMet and repayment of Bridge Loan

BAAR, Switzerland, July 5, 2013 /CNW/ – Glencore Xstrata plc announces that its indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary, Glencore AG (“Glencore”) has acquired 31,756,979 common shares of PolyMet Mining Corp. (“PolyMet”) at US$0.66 per common share pursuant to its basic subscription privilege and additional subscription privilege under PolyMet’s previously announced rights offering (“Rights Offering”), representing approximately 11.6% of PolyMet’s issued and outstanding common shares following the Rights Offering.

Following completion of the Rights Offering, Glencore holds 78,724,821 common shares representing approximately 28.6% of PolyMet’s issued and outstanding common shares. The Rights Offering triggered the customary anti-dilution provisions of PolyMet’s convertible debenture exchange warrant and purchase warrants held by Glencore. The numbers of common shares issuable to Glencore under the convertible debenture exchange warrant and purchase warrants have been adjusted to 24,083,366 and 6,458,001, respectively, which, if exercised, would result in Glencore holding 109,266,188 common shares representing approximately 35.8% of the outstanding common shares of PolyMet on a partially diluted basis.

In connection with the closing of the Rights Offering, PolyMet repaid the principal amount and all outstanding accrued and unpaid interest thereon of the previously announced US$20 million loan (“Bridge Loan”) advanced by Glencore to PolyMet on April 11, 2013.

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Pepin County: A ready template for sand mine regulation – by Minnessota Star Tribune Editorial (July 4, 2013)

The refrain heard over and over again in Minnesota’s pitched political battle over frac sand mining this year was: “We don’t want to be Wisconsin.”

Just across the border lie leveled bluffs, groundwater-draining processing facilities and communities choked by truck congestion — the result of Wisconsin’s mine-first, ask-questions-later regulatory approach to sand mining. But because of the farsighted work done by a courageous county on that state’s western edge — declaring a 12-mile strip of bluff­land a frac-free zone — Minnesotans who want to ensure that sand mining is done responsibly should now look east for examples of what to do, instead of only what not to do.

“Other folks can do this,’’ said Bill Mavity, a retired Twin Cities attorney who now lives in Pepin County, serves on the County Board and played a critical role in crafting the frac-free zoning ordinance, thought to be the first of its kind. Protections like this “are increasingly important because of how large the industry is that is coming and the clout and the power that they have.’’

A legislative session in which ­Minnesota lawmakers steadily whittled down new state-level safeguards to the bare minimum should especially prompt southeast Minnesotans to give serious scrutiny to Pepin County’s proactive measure.

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Local view: Investment proves merit of Northland copper mines – by Frank Ongaro (Duluth News Tribune – June 30, 2013)

Frank Ongaro is the executive director of MiningMinnesota.

Minnesota’s business climate received a significant boost recently when two of the state’s proposed copper, nickel and precious metals mining projects secured more than $50 million in long-term financing. Investors throughout the world are recognizing that the strategic metals deposits found in Northeastern Minnesota represent a world-class economic opportunity for our state.

PolyMet Mining, the developer of the Northmet Project near Hoyt Lakes, received a $20 million bridge loan from Glencore International PLC, based in Switzerland, to pay for operations while a $60 million stock offering is completed. Duluth Metals, the majority partner in the development of the Twin Metals Project

in the Babbitt/Ely area, received a $30 million investment from CEF (Capital Markets) Limited, a subsidiary of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd.

These investments provide more than important capital; they provide independent validation of the quality of the projects proposed. Smart investors will invest only in projects that are likely to succeed, and that means projects that will meet and exceed all state and federal environmental standards and regulations.

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Duluth Minnesota mining project holds promise for northern suppliers – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – June 2013)

Established in 1980, Northern Ontario Business provides Canadians and international investors with relevant, current and insightful editorial content and business news information about Ontario’s vibrant and resource-rich North.

The copper-nickel-PGM property being developed by Duluth Metals isn’t located in Northern Ontario. You can’t even find it in Canada. But a recent Sudbury appearance to SAMSSA Members by Duluth’s president and CEO, Vern Baker, attracted a packed house based on the potential it holds for northern supply and service companies.

Located in Northern Minnesota along the north shore of Lake Superior, Baker predicts the Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) complex (a joint venture with Chile’s Antofagasta plc) will become one of the world’s major mining districts over the next five to 10 years because of the massive potential tonnages and the types of ore to be found there.

“We have a huge opportunity just in the quantity of metal that’s available,” said Baker, who puts TMM on the same scale as some of the largest copper mines in South America. “It’s got some very distinct similarities to Sudbury and some very distinct differences.”

Duluth’s January 2013 NI 43-101 resource report indicates 13.6 billion pounds of copper, 4.4 billion pounds of nickel, 5.6 million ounces of platinum, 12.7 million ounces of palladium, and 3.1 million ounces of gold. It infers another 11.9 billion pounds of copper, 4.1 billion pounds of nickel and 12.8 million ounces of total precious metals.

The company has spent $200 million on the project to date, and Baker estimates that could rise to between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

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