A proposal for a copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is starting to come together. A Twin Metals representative recently told a Virginia, MN newspaper that locations for mine access, water, and tailings have been identified.
Bob McFarlin, vice president of public and governmental affairs for the company, told the Mesabi Daily News that Twin Metals plans to start mining at its Maturi Deposit, which is located along the South Kawishiwi River near the Spruce Road, about 8.5 miles southeast of Ely.
The mine access and other facilities would be located near the Ely airport, with tunnels connecting the site to the mine, which would be 1,500 to 3,000 feet below the surface. Water would be drawn from the Dunka Pit, a closed iron mine on the south end of Birch Lake, McFarlin told the newspaper.
While half of the tailings would be reburied in the mine after the minerals are extracted, the other half might be disposed of on the surface at a site south of Babbitt. McFarlin says that site is in the Lake Superior basin, not the Boundary Waters’ watershed.
Twin Metals is still relatively early in its proposal, with plans to complete a Pre-Feasibility Study this year. No date has been announced for the beginning of its formal environmental review. The project is a partnership between junior mining company Duluth Metals and Chilean conglomerate Antofagasta PLC.