The Tamarack nickel-copper-cobalt project, which is located 87km west of the city of Duluth, is an undeveloped high-grade nickel deposit. Talon and Rio Tinto are in a joint venture on the project.
Talon said it is the only such deposit in the US that has the potential to create an integrated nickel supply chain in the US for the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
The preliminary mine design for Tamarack includes progressive technologies designed to minimise impacts on the environment, renewable energy to power operations, and the development of skills in the local community to provide a highlight qualified workforce for the proposed mine and mineral processing facilities.
Talon is also looking at opportunities to leverage the natural for carbon mineralisation at the deposit for carbon capture and storage at the Tamarack project. The company is also evaluating using blockchain tracing technology to create the first transparent and traceable battery nickel supply chain from the project to battery manufacturing facilities.
The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in a variety of industries across North America, including the metals and mining industries. The USW will work collaboratively with management at Talon as part of the new agreement, and together they will plan for the workforce needed for production and maintenance at Tamarack as well as developing a strategic plan for future recruitment.
It is expected that the project will need a mix of experienced underground miners and newer miners with digital skills in areas such as automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and computer modelling. For both these types of workers, management at Talon and the USW intend to work together to recruit people from the local area as well as communities in other US mining regions that have declining demand.
At present, it is projected that 500 full-time, high-paying jobs will be created at the Tamarack nickel project. Talon and the USW will collaborate with local skills development institutions to provide skills training in the region to build Tamarack's future workforce and make sure that it is a key contributor to the American EV battery supply chain. As part of the agreement, Talon has confirmed that it will remain neutral during any of the USW's organising efforts at Tamarack.
Tom Conway, international president of the USW, commented: "This agreement is groundbreaking and a fundamental change in how future mines can be developed. I am thrilled that our team will be integrated into the workforce planning for this vital new source of critical minerals in the EV battery supply chain in the US.
"Our goal is clear: we plan to build a mine that will help ensure US manufacturing has the needed technology to meet the challenge of global warming. The Tamarack nickel project has the prospect of being the US domestic supplier of high-grade nickel and other critical minerals and the world's first carbon negative mine."
Henri van Rooyen, CEO of Talon Metals, stated: "Talon is looking forward to partnering with the Steelworkers to build the mine workforce of the future and operate the mine at Tamarack as a key contributor to the US EV battery supply chain. The Steelworkers and its members know mining and also the changing technology needed to prevent climate change. We are eager to begin working together to build the mine of the future."
In April, Talon Metals proposed a US-based nickel refinery that could create a ‘green nickel' supply chain in the US.