Mining the Metals We Use Every Day
The metals we will extract from the NorthMet deposit are the silent rivers that run through our economy.
Found in everything from wind turbines to diabetes test strips, cancer treatments and car exhaust catalysts, the metals from our project are essential to our everyday lives. Imagine life without electricity, cars without pollution controls and medical care without many of today’s medical devices.
The Importance of Copper
International Copper Association and The Copper Alliance
Metals we depend on
|Copper: Primarily used in electrical and plumbing applications. Its recently-recognized antimicrobial properties add to its usefulness as a malleable, corrosion-resistant material. However, its use in electrical wiring is where it can lay claim to being a truly 21st century metal — wind turbines, solar farms, power generation and transmission systems, electric or hybrid cars, electronic devices and domestic appliances all rely on copper.|
|Nickel: high-strength and antimicrobial alloys, stainless steel, aerospace, hospital and kitchen equipment, gas and power plant turbines, rechargeable batteries, aircraft engines|
|Cobalt: household magnets, rechargeable batteries, aircraft engines, cardiac stents|
|Platinum and palladium: catalytic converters, fuel cells, diabetes test strip, chemotherapy medicine|
|Gold and silver: electronics, dental and medical applications, jewelry|
While there is significant domestic demand for these metals, very few mines in the United States produce them. In fact, the United States imports nearly 90 percent of its platinum, more than 50 percent of its palladium, around 35 percent of its copper and gold, and has only one active nickel mine. Even with the high rate of recycling, the demand for these metals far exceeds our national supply.
By meeting Minnesota’s strict environmental standards, we can mine the metals we need every day without harming our region’s air and water quality. Download the DNR’s fact sheets on how the PolyMet project will protect water quality and air quality.