Teck American making roads in Babbitt for future copper-nickel mine

by Nick Wognum
The Babbitt city council heard a presentation Tuesday from a mining company doing exploration work in the area.
Blake Borgeson of Teck American said the company has been in Babbitt since 2007 working on a copper-nickel deposit.
Borgeson said Teck is working on a project within the Babbitt city limits.
Project geologist Dan Foley and Lisa Weidemann, environment and community affairs manager, addressed the council as well.
Weidemann said the company is looking to develop a mine south of the Northshore Mine and east of the PolyMet deposit.
“A lot of the work we’ve been doing this year has just been secure, long-term access to our site,” said Weidemann. “Part of that is a road project. We submitted all of our permits and it looks like we are going to get approval to do some road improvements.”
She said the roadwork is south of Forest Service Road 112, the Skibo Road.
“My grouse hunting area,” said council member Terry Switajewski. “What are you going to do to it?”
Weidemann said seven miles down the Skibo there is Forest Service 423, an unimproved road right now.
“Historically there was a track that led all the way to a bridge that did cross at that point,” said Weidemann.
The road was originally used for logging purposes and the bridge washed out in the late 1980s and was never replaced.
“We’re planning to do some basic cut and fill to level that road out and do some brush cutting to get some equipment in there,” said Weidemann. “We also have a plan to construct a bridge over the Dunka River.”
She said the road beyond the river is overgrown and will be put back in as part of the overall project.
“This project is to facilitate geological and environmental exploration and baseline monitoring activities,” said Weidemann.
She said the schedule is to have the work done this fall so drilling can commence this winter.
“That’s our hope,” said Weidemann.
Switajewski asked how long before Teck would start construction on a mine.
“That’s the million dollar question,” said Weidemann. “Right now I can’t speculate on when that might be. I can say getting this road access will help us understand the resource, understand the environmental baseline conditions and getting that framework in place that will help us.”
Weidemann said there hasn’t been much opposition.
“That’s a little different than other groups in the area. Right now we’re okay with that,” said Weidemann.
She said Teck has an open door policy at their location in Babbitt in the former pool table warehouse and off Commerce Road.
“If you have any questions about anything feel free to stop by Monday through Friday, generally we’re around.
“Teck is a company that tries to approach things in a more open way than has been seen in some mining companies historically. We’re trying to be open and transparent and get some dialogue going early on so we can figure out issues early on and address them and get through them,” said Weidemann.
The road is not planned to be a mine road and can be used by the public other than when construction work is being done up until the new bridge where a gate will be installed.
She said the company is aware of hunting in the area and will shut down construction during deer season.