Ely, MN: The Next Mining Town?

By KBJR News 1

August 11, 2010 Updated Aug 11, 2010 at 9:03 AM CST

The location, near Ely, has many residents and those who like to visit Ely and the near–by Boundary Waters concerned about the environmental damage this mining could do.

"The material that we are interested in are the kind of the sparkly, metallic bits in there."

It comes from over 3,000 feet below the earth's surface.

Precious metals of nickel, copper, and platinum are being found in a large basin located near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northeastern Minnesota.

President and CEO of Duluth Metals Rick Sandri says they began drilling at this site about two years ago.

"We have two drill holes that were put down on this site. And you can see the natural reclamation of this immediate area," said Sandri.

Sandri says a deposit of the size of this one near Ely is an extremely rare find.

"Not only is the grade mineral very high relative to these parts of deposits, but its size is quite large."

But for residents in Ely, the monetary value of the minerals is unimportant compared to fears of the environmental impact of sulfite ore mining.

"The fact of the matter is there is not one proven mine in all of the world that is a sulfite ore mine that has been environmentally safe," said Jane Koschak.

"Ely is not, as they say. A mining community. Ely has not been a mining community since the early 1960s since the Pioneer Mine closed," said Steve Koschak.

Jane and Steve Koschak are the owners of River Point Resort near Ely. They say there is no price tag that can be placed on an area like the Boundary Waters.

"We need to realize the value of what we have here."

Duluth Metals spokesmen say if this mine were to open it would create about 400 full–time jobs.