Talon Metals will build a $433 million battery mineral processing plant…in North Dakota

Talon Metals is planning to open a new, high-grade nickel, copper, and cobalt mine near Tamarack, Minnesota. The mine drew national attention when it signed a supply agreement with Tesla to provide the metals needed for electric cars.

However, it appears these metals will be processed in neighboring North Dakota, as Talon announced it is planning to build a $433 million mineral processing facility in Mercer County as part of a federal effort to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the power grid, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

This is a victory for North Dakota’s economy and a loss for Minnesota’s because processing facilities create high-paying value-added jobs that boost the local economic benefits of responsibly developing our natural resources.

Talon’s facility will create 150 jobs in Mercer County, North Dakota. While that may not sound like a big number to Minnesotans living in the Twin Cities, the town of Tamarack had a population of 101 people in the 2020 census. Building this facility in Minnesota would have created a significant number of well-paying jobs in the region.

But why did the company decide to build its mineral processing plant in North Dakota? Talon’s press release seems to indicate that red tape in Minnesota likely facilitated their decision:

The acquisition of the preferred site in North Dakota is actively under negotiations. Removing the processing facilities from the Tamarack mine site in Minnesota significantly reduces land disturbance and the scope of environmental review and permitting.

Sadly, the plans to build the processing facility in North Dakota are completely unsurprising because Minnesota’s state government has politicized the permitting process and made it unnecessarily difficult and expensive to develop new projects in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

There is no clearer example of this than Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s decision to delay the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project on multiple occasions despite the fact that his decision actually increased the probability of an oil spill. These delays were largely responsible for the price tag of the replacement project rising to $4.1 billion, an increase of $1.2 billion compared to Enbridge’s initial estimates.

On top of that, the PolyMet mine has spent the last four years in legal purgatory due to endless lawsuits from anti-mining groups who hope to delay the project to death.

When you tell would-be job creators that they need not apply in your state, eventually, they listen.

In contrast, North Dakota’s government has done the opposite by providing clear, science-based standards for permitting that give project proposers more certainty that they will be able to build their facilities on time and on budget.

Unfortunately for Minnesotans, it is really not surprising that Talon would look elsewhere for its mineral processing facility.