Tamarack nickel mine could begin mining by 2026

The Duluth News Tribune recently ran a story on the proposed Tamarack nickel mine near Tamarack, Minnesota. Talon Metals, which owns a majority stake in the project, told investors a high-grade nickel deposit could be operational by 2026.

Unlike the massive deposits that accompany the PolyMet and Twin Metals mines, the Tamarack deposit is a smaller deposit with higher grades of nickel and copper. In this way, it is more similar to the Eagle Mine, which has operated safely in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan since 2014, than it would be to the proposed copper-nickel mines in the Duluth Complex.

Talon says it plans to build an underground mine that will employ 450 people. The company will develop a mine that reaches depths of around 1,700 feet, with a series of switchbacks from the surface for vehicles or conveyors to reach the bottom below the ore body, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

The nickel, copper, and other metals would then be processed, and some of the waste rock, or tailings, would be mixed with concrete and pumped back into the mined-out areas to reduce the storage of tailings at the surface, while the rest of the tailings would be dry-stacked above ground. The end-product will be high-grade nickel that is ideal for the lithium-ion batteries used in laptops and electric vehicles.

Talon Metals Corp. wants to capitalize on the growing demand for electric vehicles, but environmental groups — many of whom support Gov. Tim Walz’s electric car mandates — are already signaling their opposition to the mine.

Unfortunately, this opposition could mean that Talon will be unable to start production in 2026. For example, the Twin Metals mine has been in the preliminary scoping phase for two years, and PolyMet has been in the permitting process for 14 years. Even after it was granted a permit to mine in 2018, many of its permits are still tied up in the courts.

Mining for copper and nickel in Minnesota has the potential to create more than 14,800 new jobs with high annual incomes. These are the types of jobs that build strong communities and allow families to buy a home and put away money to help their kids go to college. They are jobs that are good enough to keep people in rural areas that have seen declining populations for decades.

We should embrace the environmentally responsible development of our natural resources whenever possible. If we don’t mine in Minnesota, where environmental protections are strong, production will shift to areas of the world with few protections for workers or the environment.