Michigan copper mine moving forward

A potential copper-nickel mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula had a roadblock removed recently with a judge's decision to uphold the mine permits.

Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, annnounced last week that the Ingham Circuit Court upheld environmental permits issued in 2007 for the Eagle Mine. The permits had been challenged in court by groups concerned about acid mine drainage including the National Wildlife Federation.

"We are confident that we can operate in an environmentally safe and responsible manner, while contributing to job creation and the economic vitality of the area and state," Kennecott Eagle Minerals president Adam Burley said in a statement.

Kennecott has been trying for a decade to develop the mine, which is expected to produce 300 million pounds of nickel, 250 million pounds of copper and small amounts of other metals, the company states. If it is built, Eagle Mine would be the only primary nickel mine in the United States.

The company started underground blasting in September and expects to begin mining in 2013.

Aerial view of the Eagle Mine is by Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company.