With the stated goal of becoming the second operating copper-nickel mine in the Duluth Complex of Northeastern Minnesota, Franconia Minerals Corporation announced today that it is initiating waste rock characterization studies on its Birch Lake deposit.
In a media release, HERE, the company said that waste characterization studies will help predict how natural waste materials from mining will weather when exposed or stockpiled during the mining process. The results of the studies will be used to design a mining plan that will have the least impact on the environment, Franconia said.
Mining in rock containing sulfides can cause water quality concerns, namely acid drainage, if the rock comes into contact with air and water.
“This is just one of a number of studies we are beginning to conduct on the Birch Lake deposit as we advance our development plans through the coming year or so,” Brian Gavin, Franconia President and CEO said. “Our goal is to be ready to become the second company in the Duluth Complex, after Polymet, to build a mine. Of course, a key difference is that we are targeting an underground deposit to mine, which logically, should produce a relatively small amount of waste rock to be stockpiled at the surface.”
The PolyMet project — a planned open pit mine — is in the middle of the 90-day public comment period on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Franconia’s Birch Lake Project is located on either side of Minnesota Highway 1 near Ely. The Birch Lake deposit lies under Birch Lake, a segment of the Kawishiwi River. The Maturi and Spruce Road deposits of the Birch Lake Project are nearby.
Franconia’s brochure for the Birch Lake Project can be found HERE.