ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Twin Metals says its updated plan for an underground copper-nickel mine near Ely includes a 100-acre ore processing facility on the banks of Birch Lake, which puts it closer to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness than earlier planned.

Environmental groups blasted Thursday’s announcement, saying it increases the threat to the wilderness because any polluted runoff from the site would be much closer to the Boundary Waters.

But Twin Metals spokesman Bob McFarlin says the change won’t threaten the environment, and the project must still meet strict regulations.

The company also announced plans to open a new office in Babbitt in addition to its offices in Ely and St. Paul, and for a tailings storage facility south of Babbitt. It plans to submit a formal mining plan next year.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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