The world’s largest untapped copper deposit just got bigger. Twin Metals, Inc. now estimates its resource near Ely, MN holds more than 8-billion pounds of copper.
According to the mine’s parent company, Duluth Metals of Toronto, the earth near Spruce Road, southeast of Ely, also holds 2.5-billion pounds of nickel and 12-million ounces of palladium, platinum, and gold. Inferred, but not yet proven, estimates suggest the copper resource could top 13-billion pounds, with the amount of nickel and other metals increasing as well.
All told, the metals have an estimated value of $100-billion.
Duluth Metals is having a $3-billion, 80,000-ton-per-day underground mine and processing plant designed to extract the resource. If permitted and completed, the mine would be one of the world’s largest, employing, Duluth Metals says, more than 1,000 workers. By comparison, PolyMet Corporation’s project near Babbitt, MN is estimated to cost $600-million, process 32,000 tons of metal per day, and employ 350 people.
Environmental advocates warn that mining copper, nickel, and other precious metals from sulfide-bearing rock has serious environmental risks and has yet to be done safely. They worry that mining in the area could compromise water quality in and around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.