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Teck to invest in North American copper

The company is moving to develop Minnesotan copper projects
An aerial view of PolyMet’s NorthMet site in northern Minnesota, where Teck has gone into a joint venture to develop copper-nickel projects. (Image courtesy of google earth)

Teck is entering into a joint venture to develop its Minnesotan copper-nickel deposits.

In a release on July 20, the company revealed plans to throw in with Glencore-controlled PolyMet Mining, which owns the NorthMet copper-nickel project in northern Minnesota. Teck owns the undeveloped Mesaba copper-nickel deposit in the same region.

Under a 50:50 joint venture, Teck and PolyMet will band together to further the development of both projects, which will collectively be known as the NewRange project.

“The NewRange Copper Nickel joint venture brings together two large, well defined mineral resources in the established Iron Range mining region of Minnesota,” said Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck.

“This agreement will help unlock a new domestic supply of critical metals for the low-carbon transition through responsible mining.”

NewRange would represent “one of the largest clean-energy resources in the U.S. and globally,” according to Jon Cherry, President and CEO and PolyMet.

Currently, Teck has interests in four producing copper assets around the world, with Mesaba counted among projects it is slowly progressing with environmental studies.

NorthMet is expected to be able to produce up 30,000 tonnes of copper a year when it comes online. Teck is yet to determine the production capacity of the Mesaba deposit, but touts it as “one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-nickel resources” and markets it as a strategic metal resource.

PolyMet has been developing NorthMet for well over a decade, with Glencore securing a controlling stake in the company in mid-2019.

Glencore is one of the world’s major copper producers, with assets in South America, where it owns the Collahuasi mine near Teck’s Quebrada Blanca copper operations. Glencore also has stakes in the Kamoto Copper Company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Details on the joint venture are expected to be released as the deal progresses and all involved companies secure the relevant regulatory approvals.

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