White House points to Minnesota mine for electric vehicle production as environmentalists raise concerns
President Joe Biden recently invoked the Defense Production Act in order to increase the mining of critical minerals that can be used to power electric vehicles.
In doing so, Biden specifically referenced a proposed mine in northern Minnesota that could be a key component of the president’s vision toward changing what travels on America’s roadways.
The Tamarack mine would be located about 50 miles west of Duluth. Along with Michigan’s Eagle Mine, it would be a key resource for domestic nickel, according to Todd Malan, a spokesperson and Head of Climate Strategy for Talon Metals.
The Tamarack mine would be developed by Talon Metals under the umbrella of the massive Rio Tinto mining company. In perhaps an even larger news item than the announcement from Biden, Tesla announced it intends to source nickel for electric vehicle batteries from the Minnesota mine. Tesla has committed to purchasing 75,000 metric tons of nickel concentrate over six years from planned mine. Talon hopes to open the mine by January 2026, but has not yet started the permitting process, the Associated Press reports.
Meanwhile, similar to other proposed nonferrous mining projects in northern Minnesota, there are environmental concerns being expressed about the Tamarack mine. Paula Maccabee is the advocacy director and legal counsel for Minnesota based WaterLegacy. She told WTIP that people, including officials within the Biden administration, are moving too quickly to highlight the potential role the mine could play in putting more domestically sourced electric vehicles on America’s roads. Rather than insisting on extraction, federal officials should look to recycling of materials to put the nation on a greener pathway, including for electric vehicles, Maccabee said.
WTIP, like many other newsrooms across Minnesota, has spent more than a decade reporting on proposed copper-nickel mines in the region. The Twin Metals project on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness continues to hit major roadblocks linked to its proposal, while the stalled PolyMet project has also been dealt a series of setbacks in recent years.
Earlier this month, Biden invoked Title III of the 1950 Defense Production Act, which will provide the government with economic authorities to address industrial shortfalls. What this means in Minnesota is that mining companies could access money under the law for production of minerals needed to produce batteries for electric vehicles, including nickel. Earlier this year, the federal government showed its interest in the Tamarack project when the US Department of Energy awarded $2.2 million in research and development funding to explore the mine’s carbon storage potential.
Malan spoke with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs about the proposed project and what it means for the future of sulfide mining in northern Minnesota, and for America’s shift toward putting electric vehicles on the nation’s roadways. Click here to listen to the interview.
To hear the full interview with Maccabee, click here.