Toronto company Duluth Metals Ltd. (TSX: DM), which owns Twin Metals Minnesota LLC, has upgraded projections of the reserves held in a planned underground copper, nickel, and precious metals mine in Ely, Minnesota. Final estimates are as much as 19 percent higher than earlier indications.
The project is worth $2 billion, but any real mining is a while away yet. New estimates are based on more recent drill holes, but they do confirm one thing: the Twin Metals find is indeed one of the biggest copper/nickel/precious metals deposits in the world.
Platinum, palladium, and gold estimates in particular received hefty upgrades, indicating that this also might be one of the biggest platinum and palladium sites outside of South Africa.
Bloomberg reports that the new estimate shows an “indicated” 13.7 billion pounds of copper, 4.4 billion pounds of nickel, and 21.2 million ounces of palladium, platinum, and gold.
Separately, the company estimates an “inferred” 11.8 billion pounds of copper, 4 billion pounds of nickel, and 12.8 million ounces of other precious metals.
A “prefeasibility study” is now underway and should be done by the first half of 2014.
Twin Metals is the result of a joint venture between Duluth Metals (60 percent ownership) and Chile’s Antofagasta PLC (LON: ANTO) (40 percent).
Although the project raises hopes both for industries and jobs, environmental opposition stems from the fact that the minerals are trapped in sulfuric compounds, meaning the mining process could leak sulfur-based contaminants into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Lake Superior.