I’ve written a lot the last few years on efforts to resurrect U.S. mining. Like officials in Maine this week tabling a law to enable new minerals operations in the state.

And mining got a couple big votes of confidence in another part of the country. The prospective copper-nickel terrain of Minnesota.

The biggest boost for this re-emerging exploration destination came from mining major Rio Tinto. Which reportedly asked Minnesota regulators for an expanded land package in the search for new deposits.

Reports Monday suggest that Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Kennecott has applied to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for 6,800 acres of new exploration lands. Coming as add-on to an extensive land position the major has explored here the last several years — see figure below.

Minnesota Copper

Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Kennecott already holds the blue lands above, and is applying for an additional 6,800 acres shown in orange

Minnesota

That’s a very encouraging move for Minnesota’s mining sector. Showing that Rio Tinto geologists still see potential for a major-sized discovery — even after vending off previous mineral finds here as not worth their time.

And elsewhere in Minnesota, regulators are doing their best to support development of discovered mineral resources. Signing off this week on a critical land swap needed by one of the state’s most high-profile new mines.

That’s the PolyMet copper-nickel mine, being developed by junior PolyMet Mining. Where the U.S. Forest Service Monday agreed to exchange public lands it holds within the planned mine area — in return for PolyMet signing over an equal portion of currently non-federal lands.

The deal is a complicated one — requiring sign-off by a number of different levels of government. The fact it got done shows officials here are willing to work getting new mines up and running, which is a great sign for future developments in the state.

Watch for more exploration activity from Rio Tinto and others — and for further steps forward for test-case mines like PolyMet.

Here’s to bringing it back,

Dave Forest

Article by Pierce Points