Talon Metals proposes plan for mine that would provide nickel to Tesla

Talon Metals LLC filed papers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to propose a new nickel mining project in Aitkin County.

The project, known as the Tamarack Nickel Mine, would require the construction of an underground mine and corresponding facilities near Tamarack, Minn, the DNR said Wednesday. If completed, Talon says the nickel from the mine would be used in Tesla Inc. vehicles.

The initial plan says the project will span 80 acres and include access to the underground mine, storage for ore and waste rock and water treatment facilities.

Ore-bearing rock containing nickel and metals are about 500-2,000 feet under the surface, said the DNR. Rock mined at the Tamarack Nickel Mine would have to be transported by railway to North Dakota for processing.

The Tamarack Nickel Project is a joint venture between Talon Metals LLC and London-based company Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest metals and mining corporation, according to Talon’s website. The webpage also notes that Talon owns 51% of the Tamarack Nickel Project, with an earn-in right to own up to 60%.

In addition, Talon Metals say they have already struck a deal with Tesla Inc. to supply it with 165 million pounds of nickel in concentrate (and certain byproducts, including cobalt and iron) from the Tamarack Nickel Mine over a six-year period.

The Minnesota Environmental Policy Act requires proposed projects to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that the DNR will review as part of its more extensive environmental assessment of the project.

RELATED: Proposed Minnesota nickel mine begins environmental review, would supply Tesla if approved

“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.”

As initially reported by the Associated Press, the project already faces opposition from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and environmental groups. They’re concerned about the potential impacts on water resources and Native communities in the area, about 115 miles north of Minneapolis. Like the NewRange and Twin Metals ore deposits, the metals are bound up in sulfide minerals that can generate sulfuric acid when exposed to the environment.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe recently introduced the Water Over Nickel initiative to ally organizations and experts to protect Minnesota’s water and environment, according to a website for the initiative.

RELATED: Indigenous leaders introduce new environmental initiative

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy said in a statement that the U.S. would be better off boosting recycling to secure its nickel and other metal supplies. Around the world, governments and companies advancing renewable energy have found themselves battling communities opposed to similar projects, which critics have dubbed “green colonialism.”

For an overview of and updates on the Tamarack Nickel Mine from the DNR, CLICK HERE.