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Underground mine near Ely would be state's largest, tap copper jackpot

ELY, Minn. -- A mining company is moving forward with plans to operate what it says would be the largest underground mine in Minnesota history.

Twin Metals has instructed its engineering contractor to draw up plans for an 80,000-ton-per day mine and processing plant in northeastern Minnesota. The project is expected to cost between $2 billion and $3 billion and will tap what geologists say is a jackpot discovery of copper southwest of Ely.

Twin Metals is currently collecting environmental data on water quality, plants, animals and other information on 32,000 acres. The mine could eventually employ more than 1,000 people to mine 400 million tons of ore-bearing rock.

Twin Metals vice president Bob McFarlin tells the Duluth News Tribune the mine will be a lot like an underground city.