ISHPEMING, Mich., Sept. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company, owner and developer of the Eagle nickel copper mine, today announced that the Ingham Circuit Court (Ingham County, Mich.) ruled the company may move ahead with constructing the underground entryway to the mine. The decision was issued in response to a continuing challenge to the validity of permits approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2007 following an extensive public and regulatory review process. The Michigan DEQ affirmed the permits in 2010.
"Kennecott appreciates the court's thoughtful consideration of the merits in this case," said Kennecott president Adam Burley. "While we are pleased that the ruling enables us to continue forward with productive progress and associated job creation, we remain sensitive to the concerns of others and will continue to seek opportunities for conversation. In particular, we remain committed to establishing a constructive relationship with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, aimed at strengthening our understanding of the tribe's interests and working to resolve issues that benefit all."
Kennecott has expressed its ongoing commitment to protecting a rock outcrop on the mine site from construction and mine activities, and to ensuring that tribal members have safe access to the rock.
The mine's underground entryway is designed, and was approved by state regulators, for the safety of the environment and workers. Kennecott engineers moved the mine entry in response to requests expressed by KBIC for protecting the rock feature.
Currently, the Kennecott Eagle project employs more than 300 workers in the Upper Peninsula between its mine construction site, Humboldt Mill facility, and administrative offices in Ishpeming.
Kennecott began building the mine in April 2010. Above ground facilities for serving the mine, including an extensive environmental protection system, are largely complete. The next step in the construction process involves building an underground tunnel to access the mineral deposit. The mine is expected to begin production of nickel and copper in 2013.
About Kennecott Eagle Minerals
A wholly owned unit of Rio Tinto, Marquette County, Michigan based Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company is the owner, developer, and future operator of Eagle Mine in western Marquette County of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (USA). When built, Eagle Mine will be the only primary nickel mine in the U.S., and is expected to produce 300 million pounds of nickel, 250 million pounds of copper and small amounts of other metals. www.kennecotteagleminerals.com
About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the United Kingdom, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and NYSE listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy (coal and uranium), gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide, salt) and iron ore. Activities span the world but are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in South America, Asia, Europe and Africa. www.riotinto.com
SOURCE Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company