Rio Tinto will invest $469 million in constructing the Kennecott Eagle nickel and copper mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula following receipt of final environmental approvals. Construction of the mine will begin this year and first production is scheduled for late 2013. Eagle will produce separate nickel and copper concentrates containing an average of 17,300 metric tons per year of nickel and 13,200 metric tons per year of copper over six years. The investment will enable construction of a new underground mine, associated surface facilities for servicing the mine and rehabilitation of an existing mill.

Eagle will be the only primary nickel mine in the U.S., and it will be the first new mining operation built in Michigan in decades. According to Rio Tinto, the long-term demand outlook remains strong for both nickel and copper. The mine will be built under some of the most stringent environmental permitting rules in the U.S.