Oil pipeline faces conflict with potential copper mine

By KBJR News 1

December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 12, 2013 at 12:02 AM CDT

Carlton County, MN (NNNCOW.com) - Enbridge's proposed oil pipeline across Northern Minnesota has hit another bump in the road to construction.
This time it involves a mining exploration company.

Kennecott Exploration Company has filed a petition to intervene with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Kennecott has said that the preferred route by Enbridge's Sandpiper line will "intersect and limit Kennecott's access to mineral deposits critical to the exploration and potential development of copper nickel minerals".

Tens of millions of dollars are said to have been spent by Kennecott with more than 200 exploratory holes drilled in the Tamarack area.

Enbridge officials are saying that they are in talks with Kennecott.

"As with any landowner along the route, we're committed to working with Kennecott," said Lorraine Little, with the public affairs department at Enbridge.

Kennecott has been drilling exploratory holes in the area since 2001 and found high grade copper and nickel deposits in 2008.

Carlton County officials say that whether it's an oil pipeline or mineral extraction, it's going to be up to the Public Utilities Commission to make a decision on who has the right of way.

"Carlton County does not have a preference. We see the benefit from both organizations working in this county," said Greg Bernu, Carlton County land commissioner.

The Public Utilities Commission said it will come to a decision sometime in the fall of next year on the specific route and certificate of need.

Kennecott officials have not said officially that they will pursue a mine in the area yet, but did say they have found a high grade concentration of copper nickel.

Bryce Henry