Talon Metals officially submits proposal for Tamarack Nickel Mine

Tesla signs deal with proposed Minnesota mining project.
Tesla signs deal with proposed Minnesota mining project.(Talon Metals)
Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 11:30 AM CDT
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TAMARACK, MN. (Northern News Now) - Another mine has been proposed to the Minnesota DNR.

The DNR announced Wednesday that they received a proposal from Talon Metals LLC for a new nickel mining project in Aitkin County in central Minnesota.

Approximately 1.5 miles north of Tamarack, MN, the proposed project, the Tamarack Nickel Mine, would involve the construction of an underground mine and supporting facilities.

MiningMinnesota leaders released the following statement today after the announcement:

“Today’s announcement by Talon Metals marks a key milestone in Minnesotans showcasing their dedication to a clean energy future powered with domestic minerals. Our state is committed to clean car standards and clean energy goals that are dependent upon reliable, sustainably developed sources of nickel, cobalt, copper, and iron, which would all be provided with the development of the Tamarack Nickel Project. Community engagement and collaboration create stronger projects, both socially and environmentally, and Talon Metals has consistently demonstrated its promise to its neighboring community.

The project that has been proposed today is the result of years of discussions and an open-door policy that have collectively shaped project design. Domestic mining projects provide valuable opportunities for meaningful cooperation between all necessary stakeholders, which we do not have when we choose as a nation to source our minerals, such as nickel, from Indonesia or Russia. MiningMinnesota and its members are excited to see this critical step reached for the Tamarack Nickel Project and look forward to supporting the conversations that will be sparked throughout the environmental review process. Minnesota’s clean energy future begins with Minnesota’s minerals.”

Officials say the project would have an 80-acre footprint on the surface that would include an access portal to the underground mine, temporary storage for ore and waste rock, and facilities to collect and treat water.

Talon Metals would mine ore-bearing rock containing nickel and other precious metals in depths of approximately 500 to 2,000 feet below the surface.

This mined rock would then be transported by rail to a processing facility in Mercer County, North Dakota.

It is stated the disposal of waste tailings would also occur at the Mercer County facility.

Per the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act, the proposed mine requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), with the DNR as the designated responsible governmental unit.

“We understand that Minnesotans have widely differing perspectives regarding this proposed project and nonferrous mining more broadly. The DNR, however, must base its decisions on the facts and the law,” said Katie Smith, director of the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division. “I want to assure all Minnesotans that the DNR is committed to a rigorous, transparent, and neutral review of the project, based on science and applicable state law.”

Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe released the following statement:

“The submission of the Tamarack Mine draft environmental assessment worksheet to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will provide a long-awaited opportunity for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to review and evaluate a detailed proposal for the project. This is the beginning of a long environmental review process. The Band is committed to coordinating closely with the State of Minnesota to conduct a thorough evaluation of potential impacts and ensure that our land, water, wild rice, and people are protected.

As a sovereign nation, the Mille Lacs Band must have an equal voice in this process and is entitled to equal protection. There is much at stake; the proposed mine would be located just 1.3 miles from our communities and has the potential to impact our forever home and critical environmental and cultural resources. The Band supports transitioning to a green economy but in a way that does not cause further harm. Earlier this year, the Band launched Water Over Nickel to ask Minnesota leaders and regulators to prioritize fresh water over nickel, and we expect all state and federal agencies to act in the best interest of tribes as part of the federal trust responsibility.”

The DNR will review Talon Metal’s proposal to assess whether the basic information is present to begin scoping, the first phase of the EIS process. The purpose of scoping is to identify:

  • The potentially significant environmental and socioeconomic issues requiring detailed analysis in the EIS.
  • Reasonable project alternatives to be evaluated in the EIS.
  • Potential environmental mitigation options to address the projects impacts.

Scoping helps the agency focus environmental review on the most important issues and also helps determine alternatives (alternative sites, technologies, layouts, scales), timelines, and additional data needs.

There will also be at least one public scoping meeting and an opportunity for the public to comment on the draft scope of the EIS prior to DNR finalizing the scope, which will be announced at a later date.

The DNR has launched a webpage for the proposed Tamarack Nickel Mine, which includes basic information about the project, status updates, timelines, and more.

Under Minnesota law, the environmental review process informs but is separate from, the consideration of permit applications.

The proposed mine would need permits from local, state, and federal governments prior to construction and operation.

Officials say no permit applications have been received at this point, and no local or state permits/approvals could be granted until the EIS is complete and deemed adequate by the DNR.

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