Chile’s Antofagasta plc has started the environmental permitting process for its $1.7bn mining project in the US.
The top-10 copper producer, that operates in Minnesota through its subsidiary Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) announced it has submitted a formal mine operation plan (MPO) to US federal and state permitting agencies. The multi-year process is expected to speed up after the Trump administration overturned an Obama-era rule to protect a nearby wilderness area.
The submission for permits includes an MPO issued to the US Bureau of Land Management and a Scoping Environmental Assessment Worksheet Data issued to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The review process will include additional baseline data collection, impact analyses, and multiple opportunities for public input. The company has already invested more than $450mn in the project that is expected to produce copper, nickel, cobalt, and platinum group metals.
The project is slated to be Minnesota’s first underground mining operation since the closure of Ely’s Pioneer Mine in 1967. TMM anticipates several million labor hours in the construction of the project and has already reached an agreement with the Iron Range Building and Construction Trades Council. It also expects large employment opportunities for the region once the mine is operational.