The Talon Mine, also known as the Tamarack Nickel project, is proposed right in the center of Anishinaabe territory near Big Sandy Lake and the headwaters of the Mississippi River. This area holds immense cultural significance and is home to staple food sources, like the sacred wild rice, Manoomin.
Rio Tinto, one of the world’s most notorious mining corporations, is partnering with Talon Metals on the project. They call it a “green mine” because they plan to sell the nickel to car companies for electric vehicle batteries. However, this claim is undercut by the fact that the proposed mine ignores the surrounding communities’ concerns and remains laden with potential environmental risks.
Talon Metals has not yet performed proper consultation with the Tribe. With many concerns associated with the mine from the surrounding Indigenous and local communities, this underscores Rio Tino’s lack of regard for the processes in place that are meant to protect water, Indigenous rights, and the environment.
How can a mine that does not perform adequate consultation with Indigenous communities or comprehensive environmental reviews be green? The answer is it cannot. This is another example of greenwashing within the mining industry.
We are in the midst of a climate emergency, and must rapidly transition away from fossil fuels. But we must do so without repeating the mistakes of the fossil fuel era. The Talon Mine project is an important reminder to learn from the past and not replace fossil fuels with mineral extraction.
Tribal and local communities, along with Earthworks and other allies, are calling on the Biden Administration to make commitments to protect the area, including rescinding the Department of Energy’s money for Talon until there is adequate Tribal consultation and environmental review. This would go in tandem with the mining giant also respecting the right for the communities to say no to the project.
To move forward responsibly, we must reject the allure of greenwashing and prioritize securing the free, prior and informed consent of communities impacted by mining projects. The decisions we make today reverberate through generations, impacting not only the environment but also the communities and cultures intertwined with it.