Twin Metals and Range Trades Sign Project Labor Agreement

Renee Passal
Updated: August 21, 2019 09:49 PM

On a beautiful and windy Wednesday afternoon in Ely, leaders from Twin Metals and the Iron Range Building Trades Council came together, to watch a ceremonial signing of the project labor agreement.

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"We are excited about the project labor agreement," said Kelly Osborne, CEO of Twin Metals Minnesota. "We are committed. We want to build this mine, and we want to be the economic cornerstone of Northeast Minnesota."

Osborne, and Mike Syversrud, from the Iron Range Building and Construction Trades Council, picked up markers and signed the document. A crowd of several dozen was on hand for the event.

Syversrud put on a new Twin Metals hat, and said they are proud to be there. "When we get started, our projects get done ahead of schedule, under budget, and as safely as possible."

Leaders from all levels of government were on hand, and praised the agreement. Rob Ecklund, the DFL representative from International Falls, added, "Our building trades are trained to do projects like these in the safest manner possible, and follow the letter of the law when it comes to codes and regulations."

That labor agreement calls for union workers for the construction phase of the planned underground mine, which is proposed to be between Ely and Babbitt. Construction is expected to produce several million labor hours, and will be similar in scope to the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium.

Opponents said the labor agreement doesn't change the fact that they believe the mine is still an economic loser. “We all want the same thing for our community—good jobs for everyone and a sustainable lifestyle for our kids and their kids,” said Steve Piragis, owner of Piragis Northwoods Company. “But building a mine right on the edge of the Boundary Waters Wilderness is not the way to achieve this. It will cost thousands of jobs and long term will set our entire region backward for decades.”

Just this week, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would stop mining on all federal land. Congressman Pete Stauber spoke at the Twin Metals event, and addressed that way of thinking. "Please understand our way of life. We need these minerals. They are critical for our national security and our everyday lives."

Mayor Chuck Novak added, "Those fighting this say mining is boom and bust. Well, when the Pioneer Mine ran, it was a great 100 year boom. I'd like another one, OK?"

Critics also slam Antofagasta, parent company of Twin Metals. Senator Dave Tomassoni shared that he recently visited the Antofagasta offices in Toronto. "They are a world class company, and we want that here in Minnesota."

TMM plans on submitting a formal mine plan to state and federal agencies later this year.  Dean DeBeltz, director of operations and safety, said, "Our history reveals that the heart of Ely is mining. We've proven mining and tourism can co-exist, and we will prove it again."


Renee Passal

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