Crow Wing Power, through its subsidiary, Cooperative Mineral Resources LLC, recently approved final agreements with North Star Manganese Inc. that pave the way to allow North Star Manganese to work toward planning and advancement of a potential mining operation of the Cooperative Mineral Resources manganese deposit located near Emily.

Cooperative Mineral Resources is the for-profit subsidiary of Crow Wing Power that oversees the Emily manganese project on behalf of the cooperative.

According to the news release, Cooperative Mineral Resources believes the deposit near Emily is among the richest manganese deposits in North America and could help to alleviate the need for the nation’s total dependence on imports of this strategic metal.

Crow Wing Power, through a subsidiary, bought land and mineral rights in 2008 and formed Cooperative Mineral Resources as a subsidiary to study and develop the mineral deposit. Cooperative Mineral Resources brought the project where it is today and undertook several technical programs to advance the evaluation and potential development of the property, the news release stated.

Manganese material extracted and processed from the mineral deposit was tested in laboratories to produce electrolytic manganese metal used in steel and metal manufacturing and electrolytic manganese dioxide used as a chemical component in lithium/ion batteries for electric storage and electric vehicle batteries. However, significant exploration, metallurgical testing, economic analysis and environmental assessments are required prior to any determination of commercialization can be made.

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Talks between North Star Manganese and Cooperative Mineral Resources began in 2018, but gained significant momentum since June of 2019, when agreements in principle were reached in a memorandum of understanding and term sheet, said Bruce Kraemer, CEO of Crow Wing Power. An option agreement was signed in August 2019 furthering progress. Terms of the final agreements were approved on April 14 by the Crow Wing board members.

“It took a lot of research, hard work and due diligence, but we have now finalized all necessary documents with the right partner to advance this project,” Kraemer stated in the news release. “We are excited about the long-term potential of this investment to produce a strong financial return for the cooperative and its members, local governments and the state of Minnesota.”

Through the 1950s, manganese was mined and processed in the United States, predominantly from operations in the Cuyuna Iron Range located in Crow Wing County. Today, United States and Canada are 100% dependent on imported manganese, with most supplies coming from Africa, Australia, South America and Asia. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Interior listed 35 minerals considered critical to the economic and national security of the United States, and manganese was included on this list. “The Emily deposit in Minnesota could become the first major U.S. supplier of primary manganese and play a significant role in meeting domestic demand,” said Henry “Rick” Sandri, North Star Manganese CEO, in the news release.

North Star Manganese anticipates pursuing a detailed plan of exploration, mine planning, metallurgical assessment and market evaluation, as well as working closely with Cooperative Mineral Resources, the state and local communities on environmental reviews and permits. “Mineral projects take time, money and require a lot of science to determine if a project can meet the ‘3Es’ for development; a project needs to be engineeringly and technically sound, environmentally correct and safe, and economically viable for owners, investors and the community,” said Sandri.

“We made this investment for the long-term benefit of Crow Wing Power and its members,” said Bob Kangas, president of the Crow Wing Power Board of Directors. “Finding the right experienced and capable partner has been a long time coming, and we expect it will benefit our members for years to come.”

Crow Wing Power, founded in 1937, is owned by its 38,000 members and governed by an elected board of directors. North Star Manganese is a battery minerals company focused on the exploration and development of manganese minerals critical to the rechargeable battery market and energy storage sector. North Star Manganese is focused on developing its high-quality portfolio of assets located in mining and processing friendly jurisdictions.