TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -

A federal judge has refused to halt construction of a nickel and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

In an order signed Wednesday, Judge Robert Holmes Bell rejected a request by the private Huron Mountain Club to stop work on the mine while the club's lawsuit works its way to trial.

The exclusive club owns about 19,000 acres of forestland in Marquette County, including an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River.

In May, the club filed a suit claiming the mine would damage the river and nearby wetlands.

The mine's name recently was changed from Kennecott Eagle Minerals Co. to Rio Tinto Eagle Mine.

State regulators and company officials said the mine can be operated safely.

Drilling has begun and mineral production is expected to begin in 2014.