Drilling begins again at Emily manganese site
North Star Manganese will have 27 verification drill holes to confirm manganese and iron deposits.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify mining operations are not underway at the Emily Manganese Project site, only exploration through test drilling.
EMILY — Test drilling operations are again under way at a manganese deposit in Emily.
Nevada Silver Corp. and its Minnesota subsidiary, North Star Manganese, announced Tuesday, Feb. 14, it had received all necessary approvals and has commenced drilling operations at the Emily Manganese Project site.
The company announced 27 verification drill holes are planned with the intention to confirm the presence of manganese and iron reported by previous companies’ efforts within the Emily project area and to extend the area of known, but previously untested, mineralization.
Rick Sandri, CEO of North Star Manganese who is running the Emily Manganese Project, said the company will be drilling in some areas that have been tested as far back as the early 1900s, and in some areas where no drilling has been done.
There’s a lot of work to do. We’re going to be there for quite a number of years at this point.
North Star Manganese will use reports from past drilling efforts to “put together these puzzle pieces, to look to see if something is there, but then we have to go back and confirm it,” through new drilling, Sandri said.
The goal, Sandri said, is to determine not only the continuity of the manganese from previous tests but also to see if the mineral is good enough to produce battery grade manganese.
“In this case, we’re having to do some of this testing to actually see if it's there because some of the reports might not be up to snuff today,” Sandri said. “We’re going to see if it holds up the way a lot of people think it does … if it’s commercially viable in that regard. We think it is, the laboratory thinks it will, but need to find out.”
North Star Manganese will be drilling in Emily well into the summer months, Sandri said, then taking the rock and data to a lab for testing. If the manganese is viable, the company will begin forming a long-term plan. If it’s not viable, North Star Manganese will shut down its operations, Sandri said.
In addition to creating plans, North Star Manganese will continue to study environmental impacts of the process, work with local governments, create marketing information and conduct other developmental steps. Sandri compared the process to being in college, with North Star Manganese only in its first week of its freshman year.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re going to be there for quite a number of years at this point.”
Manganese — while historically used to toughen steel — is crucial in the manufacturing of products from medical implements and plow equipment, to burgeoning markets for batteries and electric cars.
Nevada Silver Corp. said its drilling will investigate extensions to the deposit and provide fresh samples for metallurgy and mineralogy studies as well as material and data for groundwater, geotechnical and processing investigations.
“The company’s mission in Minnesota is to become a domestic U.S. producer of high-purity, high-value manganese metal and chemical products for supply to U.S. energy, technology and industrial markets,” Nevada Silver Corp. officials said in a news release, announcing the company started drilling in Emily. “With manganese playing a critical and prominent role in lithium-ion battery formulations, and with no domestic supply or active mines in North America, this represents a significant opportunity for (company) shareholders.”
While exploration on the site go back decades, the most recent attempts at drilling on the site took place about a decade ago.
In 2008, Crow Wing Power entered into a joint venture agreement with the property owner of the land on which the manganese deposit sits with a plan to develop it. In 2011, tests were started to determine if the deposit could be extracted via borehole exploration — a hydraulic method during which water is blasted into a vein to produce a slurry that is transported to the surface and processed. However, largely because of its volcanic origins, the Emily manganese deposit proved too compacted and dense. Borehole operations at that time stalled.
In 2019, the Emily site was the subject of controversy after it was learned three Crow Wing Power executives had royalty stakes in the manganese deposit through for-profit subsidiaries owned by the power cooperative, which opponents — including some Crow Wing Power Board members — saw as a conflict of interest. Opponents claimed the Crow Wing Power executives and the cooperatives governing board lacked transparency, called for an external audit and also threatened legal action .
Later in 2019, Crow Wing Power reached an agreement with North Star Manganese to evaluate the site near Emily. Nevada Silver Corp. now has 100% ownership and management in the Emily Manganese Project, according to the company’s website, and leases the property from Crow Wing Power.
The Emily Manganese Project sits on two blocks of private land totaling 291 acres of mineral rights with potential access to contiguous land within a footprint exceeding 500 acres, Nevada Silver Corp. reported.
According to previous reports, the Emily lode is possibly the largest manganese deposit in all of North America and specifically in the U.S., which imports 100% of its manganese from Africa, Asia and South America.
It's a deposit featuring a rare combination of size, accessibility and high-grade manganese — estimated at 4 to 10 billion pounds — potentially worth billions of dollars. In addition, there's iron ore that could be harvested from the site.
MATT ERICKSON, Editor, may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5857.