Talon Metals corporation is registered in the British Virgin Islands and is engaged in a joint venture with Rio Tinto on the high-grade Nickel-Copper mining project located in near Tamarack, Minnesota. The proposed mine in Tamarack is an underground mine that will utilize up to 90 acres for surface processing and mine access. More information on the details of the mine is available at tamarackmine.org/.
You can also download a single page printable flyer outlining the primary concerns with this mine here.
There are many serious unanswered questions relative to groundwater impacts due to mining operations. Millions of gallons of water will flow into the underground mine through various openings, cracks and fissures in the bedrock as the mine fills with ground water. In fact, Page 228 of the 2021 Talon Preliminary Economic Analysis (PEA) indicates average pumping requirements of over 2.3 million gallons a day with levels reaching as high as 2.6 million gallons per day. Since most of the water pumped is a result of seepage from the aquifers above the mine, pumping of water out of the mine also depletes the aquifers.
Talon originally planned to use the tailings mixed with cement to create a cement paste that would be used to fill the mined out stopes (caverns) (page 22 of the 2021 PEA). However, in October of 2022, Talon announced that the processing plant would move to North Dakota and as such there will be no tailings on site for the cement paste. On page 228 of the 2021 PEA, Talon notes that groundwater inflows are based on an average inflow of 9.9 gpm per water bearing feature with one water bearing feature per 216m of drill data as measured through past logging. Not filling these areas in the mine would greatly increase the number of exposed water features and thus creating a significant amount of additional water that must be pumped out. How much beyond the 2.6 million gallons a day must now be pumped? Will it be 5 million gallons? More?
This is dirty water (contaminated by sulfide dust as well as direct contact with the sulfide ore) but Talon has not committed to treating this water. Treatment of this water would require large, energy intensive industrial filters that change the water chemistry impacting local lakes, wetlands and aquifers when the water is released into the environment. However, where does Talon release this water? Will a new lake be created? Can the aquifers be replenished?
The Michigan Eagle Mine is an underground nickel-copper mine similar to what is being proposed for Tamarack. However, at Eagle Mine monitor point QAL023B, the mean water level readings from 10/2019 – 9/2020 indicated a maximum of 1.7 feet (ft) below the calculated minimum background baseline level. The mine attributed this drop in water levels pumping of the mine services well and groundwater infiltration into the mine. This drop in water levels is due to an average pumping requirement of 80,000 to 150,000 gallons a day – but the Talon Tamarack site must pump potentially much more than 2,600,000 gallons per day! (See www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/egle/Documents/Reports/OGMD/2020-ogmd-eagle-mine-annual-report.PDF for details related Eagle Mining monitoring anomalies).
In addition, the Eagle mine listed at least 17 monitoring events that show levels of pollution and water chemistry changes outside the planned benchmark range – some with sulfate levels that exceed Minnesota's wild rice standards by a factor of 1500.
Water quality in the area must be preserved! To date, sulfide mining has a 100% track record of failure to protect water quality in water-rich environments.
Vented airborne dust from blasting and mine operations is contaminated with sulfides and other toxins. We note that the Michigan Eagle Mine monitors for at least 33 different toxic substances. However, there is no provisions in Talon plan to filter or mitigate airborne contamination.
The Tamarack Talon Mine site will include storage areas for ore and development rock from the mine. These areas must be lined with a leak detection system BUT liners and covers will eventually leak contaminating the area.
At the Michigan Eagle Mine, the TDRSA (Temporary Development Rock Storage Area) is lined with both a primary and secondary lining. A leak detection system is installed yet approximately 55 gallons of water was purged from the leak detection sump in 2020, Thus we see that the Eagle Mine lining system does leak after only a few years of operation.
Real estate values will drop - who wants to buy property next to a toxic mine? In addition, the large Talon holdings for mineral rights in the area (about 32 square miles) will impact landowners also likely affecting property values.
Since Talon is wholly owned by a non-US company, what happens when Talon leaves? What if they go bankrupt? Is the community left with the mess to cleanup?
Mines have a large impact on the local environment as well as the local economy. Mines may employ local residents and may get more directly involved by financing local suppliers and thus promoting local trade and growing the local economy. Mining operations also pay a significant amount of money to the state in taxes and royalties.
Nevertheless, mining operations have the potential to negatively impact the local economy and environment in ways that can severely affect the health of the community that may not have mitigations. These health impacts may not only be life impacting but may persist in perpetuity.
We define "Responsible Mining" not as cooperation with a mining company, but rather as the set of responsibilities incumbent upon the mining entity associated with the impacts on the community and environment. Generally, we expect the mining entity to address the concerns of the community and mitigate environmental impacts to the satisfaction of all parties. Depending on the local context, it may be that mining in a specific location is not responsibly feasible.