USW union reaches agreement with NewRange Copper Nickel

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 3:22 PM CDT
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN. (Northern News Now) - The United Steelworkers (USW) have reached an agreement with a northern Minnesota mining company.

On Tuesday, the union announced a Memorandum of Cooperation with NewRange Copper Nickel LLC as they look to mine a variety of critical materials in the Hoyt Lakes area.

USW District 11 Director Emil Ramirez, who represents workers in Minnesota and eight other states, said that it is essential that new mines continue the tradition of providing good, community-sustaining jobs.

“USW jobs on the Iron Range are safer and pay more than ever thanks to the leadership, hard work, and dedication of union members,” said Ramirez. “The next generation of workers also deserves the rights, benefits, and security of a fair, union contract.”

NewRange is a joint venture between Polymet Mining Corp. and Teck Resources Limited.

The company holds deposits for copper, nickel, cobalt, and platinum group metal (PGM) minerals needed for meeting the country’s growing clean energy and transportation needs.

“USW members and their families have lived and worked in Minnesota’s Iron Range for generations. As we look to the future, it’s essential that we’re building out all our domestic supply chains,” said Ramirez. “That begins with mining.”

Tannice McCoy, general manager of NewRange, said she is also looking forward to working with the USW to develop a domestic source of critical minerals needed for the clean energy economy.

“We are pleased to make this important cooperation agreement with the United Steelworkers,” said McCoy. “It is built on the shared value of responsible mining that provides economic opportunity to workers and surrounding communities while protecting the environment.”

This comes after two major permits were revoked from the company at the NorthMet mine, which is one of NewRange’s sole projects.

In June, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revoked NewRange’s previously suspended Clean Water Act section 404 permit, which establishes a program to regulate the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands.

Then earlier this month, the Minnesota Supreme Court suspended the company’s wastewater permit.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) water quality permits establish specific limits and requirements to protect Minnesota’s surface and groundwater quality.

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