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Minnesota Exploration Association Announces MiningMinnesota Initiative; Names Frank Ongaro Executive Director

Mining of base and precious metals will provide jobs, economic growth to
Minnesota communities

MINNEAPOLIS (December 19, 2006) – The Minnesota Exploration Association (MExA), an organization that works to advance non-ferrous exploration and mining in Minnesota, has announced its new MiningMinnesota initiative.

MiningMinnesota is a campaign geared to inform Minnesotans about non-ferrous (non-iron) mining and specific efforts for such mining in the state. Driven by a diverse coalition of organizations, companies and individuals committed to sustainable and environmentally responsible non-ferrous mining development, MiningMinnesota will work with local citizens, businesses and other organizations to bring growth and job creation to the state through responsible development of natural resources.

Frank Ongaro has been named executive director of the MiningMinnesota effort. Ongaro previously served for six years as president of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA).

“We are thrilled to have Frank Ongaro on board to lead our organization’s MiningMinnesota initiative,” said Ernest K. Lehmann, president of MExA. “As a third-generation Iron Ranger with a long and successful record of public and governmental affairs experience, Frank brings the acumen needed to work with all Minnesota communities and stakeholders to help guide a successful, sustainable non-ferrous mining effort.”

In addition to his work at the IMA, Ongaro served as executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools from 1995 to 2000; director of intergovernmental relations for the City of St. Paul from 1991 to 1994; assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry from 1986 to 1990; and assistant director of legislative relations for Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich from 1983 to 1985.

MiningMinnesota for the future
Though discovered more than 50 years ago, Minnesota’s vast resources of copper-nickel and platinum group metals (PGMs) associated with the Duluth Complex – perhaps the largest undeveloped base metal resource in the United States – have lain idle largely because the technology to process these ores economically and in an environmentally acceptable manner had not been developed. The evolution of new metallurgical processes about 10 years ago – as well as strong market demand for copper and nickel, and PGMs such as platinum and palladium – now make these developments possible.

“Today’s mining process is environmentally sensitive and responsible, precise and thoughtful – with an eye toward protecting Minnesota’s natural resources for generations to come,” said Ongaro. “One of the main objectives of the MiningMinnesota initiative is to objectively inform the public about non-ferrous exploration, development and operations, and how this type of mining, which is new to Minnesota, can be done with minimal environmental impact.”

In addition to helping Minnesota compete more robustly in a global economy, development of base and precious metals mining will aid the economy closer to home by providing high-quality employment and growth that will help stabilize and diversify Minnesota’s mining industry.

“There is vast, untapped potential in Minnesota – not only in terms of valuable ore deposits, but human capital as well,” said Ongaro. “MiningMinnesota not only signifies the literal mining of metals, but also mining for talent; for people who want to make mining a sustainable career. Part of our goal is to keep jobs and families in Minnesota, enhance the state’s economy and provide the world with important raw materials – many of which are necessary as components of a sustainable economy.” For example, platinum is a key component in the manufacture of catalytic converters, which reduce the toxicity of vehicle emissions.

“The MiningMinnesota effort is a welcome opportunity for Minnesota communities such as Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt in the region,” said Sen. Tom Bakk, (DFL-Cook), whose senate district includes the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota. “The initiative will give people understanding about this new type of mining, as well as how modern mining is done. This gives Minnesota an opportunity to serve as a template globally for sustainable, ethical mining practices. The economic growth and job potential is as optimistic an outlook as this area has had in some time.”