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      Kennecott begins drilling

      Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. has begun drilling a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

      Spokeswoman Deb Muchmore said Friday the company recently conducted the initial blasting and drilling of bedrock at the site in northwestern Marquette County. She said it will take about a year to drill a mile-long underground tunnel.

      The opening is about 260 feet west of Eagle Rock, an outcrop that is considered sacred by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The company has promised to protect the rock, which is surrounded by trees and fenced off from the industrial site.

      Opponents are challenging in court the state Department of Environment Quality's decision to issue permits for the mine. An Ingham County judge refused this month to delay blasting until she rules on the lawsuit.

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