Proposed Nickel Mining Project in Aitkin County
Recently, eyes have been turning to the community of Tamarack in Aitkin County, as the area is currently being considered for a possible nickel mining operation by Talon Metals Corp.
“What we have here is called the Tamarack intrusion, and Talon Metals is looking to pull out that nickel for that nickel to grow up to become batteries for EVs [electric vehicles],” said MiningMinnesota Executive Director Julie Lucas.
“And we are just now entering the next phase of the project which is the environmental review process,” said Talon Metals Community Outreach & Government Relations Manger Jessica Johnson.
Currently, plans for the underground mine has been submitted to the DNR for an environmental review to inspect the impact of the surrounding area, an aspect that has caused concern from citizens, as well as groups like the Tamarack Water Alliance.
“[There are] many concerns about the water, concerns about the air quality because of the venting,” explained Tamarack Water Alliance Founder Tom Anderson. “The DNR and MPCA [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency] should be protecting the environment, should be protecting the people of Minnesota.”
These concerns are what have caused Talon Metals to embark upon a campaign to explain the project’s goals and address the community directly.
“These are fair questions to ask. We have to be asking, ‘Who are the people involved? How are they being treated? How is the environment being managed?'” said Lucas.
One cause of concern was the nickel processing plant, which, after much community input, Talon Metals agreed to move off-site in North Dakota to prevent toxic waste.
While these community meetings have led to changes in the development of the mine, some community members still feel the project would do more harm than good.
“We as a community can put pressure on Talon to actually enforce, and implement the environmental safeguards that are needed,” said Anderson.
On the other hand, Talon Metals says that they hope this mine can produce more economic development for the area, as well as more resources to create more electric vehicles.
“We are moving into a future that is powered by metals,” said Lucas. “There’s a lot of those metals in Minnesota, so we have to have really tough discussions as Minnesotans as to where those metals are going to come from.”
The mine is also working as a partnership with electric vehicle company Tesla, so that the nickel obtained from the mine can be used in batteries in Tesla’s products.