About the Talon Tamarack Mine

Talon Metals corporation is registered in the British Virgin Islands and is engaged in a joint venture with Rio Tinto on the high sulfide nickel-copper mining project located in near Tamarack, Minnesota. The proposed mine in Tamarack is an underground mine that threatens both the local environment and communities downstream of the Mississippi river, St. Croiz river and the St. Louis river. More information on the details of the mine is available at tamarackmine.org/mine.html.

Summary of Concerns


There are many serious unanswered questions relative to groundwater impacts due to mining operations. Millions of gallons of water per day 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, potentially significantly lowering surface and well water levels.

Talon originally planned to use the tailings created from ore processing, 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. As mining occurs, large caverns will be created increasing the surface area and associated number of water features. Not filling these areas in the mine with a highly "water resistant" cement paste would greatly increase the number of exposed water features and thus creating a significant amount of additional water that must be pumped out. In addition, multiple blasting events per day will created added stress on the surrounding bedrock likely opening new fissures that will leak more water. How much beyond the 2.3 million gallons a day must now be pumped? Will it be 5 million gallons? More? Talon Metals refuses to answer this question. They don't know but are still asking the permitting agency to "look the other way" on this point.

This is dirty water (contaminated by sulfide dust as well as direct contact with the sulfide ore). Talon has indicated they will use a Reverse Osmosis filtering system to filter this water. However, will be systems be engineered to treat the actual amount of pumped water? Particularly when they don't know how much water? And where to they put all this water? They have proposed a drainage ditch through the wetlands to an existing stream? But this will disrupt the wetland and in the winter when this area freezes, the mine water could cause significant local flooding. If the water is not properly filtered (e.g. more water than their filters can handle) the entire area could be contaminated.

The Michigan Eagle Mine is an underground nickel-copper mine similar to what is being proposed for Tamarack. Consider the document: www.eaglemine.com/_files/ugd/c6167e_568f076601bc48e7a02b54f222b4165a.pdf. This Eagle Mine Anomalies Report listed over 20 monitoring situations that show levels of pollution and water chemistry changes outside the planned benchmark range. For example, one water level monitoring point showed the water level was 2.8 feet below the minimum baseline level. The mine attributed this drop in water levels to two main sources; pumping of the mine services well and groundwater infiltration into the mine. This drop in water levels is then due to an average pumping requirement of 80,000 to 150,000 gallons a day from the mine and service wells. If a 2.8’ drop is seen at these pumping rates, what happens when Talon estimates over 2,300,000 gallons pumped per day?

In addition, the Eagle mine listed at least 20 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.

Air Quality

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 the Talon plan to filter toxic substances from their vent stacks.

Mine Waste Storage

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.

Community Impact

The mine plans to blast 2-3 times a day to free ore from the bedrock for extraction. These blasts will be heard and felt for many miles around the area. Since over 8000 blast events may occur over the life of the mine, it is likely that builing foundations will be affected. This area is comprised of sand/gravel fill and as such, is very susceptable to settling under conditions where the ground is shaking. Will Talon take responsibility for this damage?

Real estate values will drop - who wants to buy property next to a toxic mine where blasting may heard and felt any time of day? 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?

More detail supporting these concerns can be downloaded here in PDF format for distribution.

Responsible Mining

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.

Protecting our waters and communities from the dangers of sulfide mining