Governor Shows Support For Duluth Metals And Franconia Merge

By KBJR News 1

December 22, 2010 Updated Dec 22, 2010 at 7:12 PM CDT

Earlier this week two companies involved in the endeavor announced a merger.

Once the newly announced merge between Duluth Metals and Franconia Minerals is complete, Duluth Metals will acquire three ore deposits.

Officials say combing those deposits with ones already held by Twin Metals Minnesota is like fitting pieces of a puzzle together.

"Once you see the maps and once you see the areas, it's just one single piece of land that is all continuous from one ore body to the other," said Andres Morel, CEO of Twin Metals Minnesota.

Earlier this year Duluth Metals entered into a partnership with Chilean based mining giant, Antofagasta.

Officials say that joint venture, known as Twin Metals Minnesota, will perform advanced exploration on 25,000 newly acquired acres as a result of the merge.

"The more they explore the more excited they have become. That there is actually more deposit then they had originally thought," said Jim Skurla with UMD Business and Economic Research.

The new merger and the entire future of copper–nickel mines is getting support from Minnesota's Governor.

In a statement Wednesday, Governor Tim Pawlenty said the merge between Duluth Metals and Franconia Minerals is an encouraging development in the advancement of mining projects in northern Minnesota.

Some argue non ferrous mining could be harmful to the environment and don't want to risk ruining northern Minnesota's pristine scenery.

Company officials say a merger like this is just another way they are working to make their presence in the environment less known.

"For the environment it is extremely good news. We're going to have a single ownership, a smaller footprint from the industrial point of view: a single mill, a single processing plant to explore the same ore body," said Morel.

Shareholders with Franconia Minerals will vote on the merge this coming February.

Once open, non ferrous mines could bring hundreds of jobs to the Iron Range.