ST. CLOUD - St. Cloud business leaders got an update today (Tuesday) on a proposed copper-nickel mine on the Iron Range.

PolyMet Mining Corp. spokesman Bruce Richardson says this would be Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine.

They have plans to mine 36,000 tons of copper and 7,700 tons of nickel a year.  He says that would be a big economic boon for the state.

Richardson says they're projecting to hire up to 360 direct employees, and create about 600 spin-off jobs.

Richardson says new technology is making it easier to separate the two minerals, and that's why they want to start mining copper and nickel here in Minnesota.

Richardson says nickel is a key component in stainless steel, copper is used in everything from wind turbines, to electronic components, to wires and pipes.

The proposed mine would be near Babbit, and the proposed processing plant would be near Hoyt Lakes.  They want to use a shuttered taconite plant that has been closed since 2001.

The project is in the environmental review stage right now.  The DNR is expected to make their decision later this year.

Opponents of the project are concerned about the potential impact it could have on the water supply in the region.