TAMARACK, Minn. (AP) - As copper-nickel mining moves slowly forward on the Iron Range, a smaller but potentially lucrative project is also advancing west of Duluth.

Kennecott Exploration has spent years sampling the swamps of Aitkin County for deposits, with plenty of misses but also some highly concentrated hits. The company was about to give up on their mining program, until it discovered higher grades of nickel and copper in February 2008. Since then, the company has drilled more than 200 holes costing about $100,000 each.

David Simpson, an exploration manager and geologist who has been searching for the chemical elements for the past 12 years, tells reporters Kennecott Exploration has continued to find worthy mineralization during recent drilling outside of Tamarack. The company has discovered nickel with grades of up to 5 percent and copper between 5 and 7 percent.