Do you support copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?

Sitting along an old forest logging road, an exploratory drill site operates 24 hours a day to acquire core samples from thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface. Here, in a photo from October 2012, one of those exploratory drill sites operates outside Ely, Minn. (Derek Montgomery for MPR)

“The polarizing divide over the future of mining around Ely will be on display this weekend, when an anti-mining group opens shop on Sheridan Street, the canoeing mecca’s main drag,” writes MPR News reporter Dan Kraker.

Workers in the new center, dubbed “Sustainable Ely,” will encourage tourists to take action urging President Barack Obama to protect the region’s environment from copper-nickel mining. They also want people to urge Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration to expand a mining protection zone around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Down the street from tourist shops like Mostly Moose and Loony’s Northwoods Emporium, the new center houses a shiny Wenonah canoe dotted with several signatures scrawled in black marker. Anti-mining activists aim to gather thousands more.

“We hope to portage this down the mall in Washington, D.C., and present it to President Obama, and ask him to protect the Boundary Waters watershed from sulfide ore mining,” said Becky Rom, a retired attorney who is among nearly 100 contributors to the center.

Although the center’s organizers see mining as a major environmental threat, many in town believe it copper-nickel mining can be done safely and jumpstart the region’s economy.

About a dozen miles southeast of Ely, Twin Metals Minnesota has proposed a massive underground mine in an area estimated to contain more than $100 billion worth of copper, nickel and precious metals. The company has been drilling in the region for years but its proposed operation is still in the planning stages.

It all comes down to sulfur

“Sulfur is the great collector of metals in nature,” said Jim Miller, geologist, University of Minnesota-Duluth. “If it wasn’t for sulfur, there would be no economic quantities of copper-nickel to be mined. And so to extract these metals, we’re going to have to deal with the sulfur.”

Sulfur, specifically a chemical reaction involving sulfur, is at the heart of the controversy over copper-nickel mining — in Minnesota and elsewhere.

All the miners have to do, he said, is bring sulfide rock up to the surface. Once it is exposed to oxygen in the air, and water, a chemical reaction will occur that creates among other things sulfuric acid — also called “acid rock drainage.”

“It’s a very simple reaction,” Miller said of the process that can cause severe water pollution. That’s why Miller calls sulfur the blessing and the curse in copper-nickel mining. Without it, the metals wouldn’t be congregated closely enough together to make mining them economically feasible. But because of that sulfur, mining companies have to manage the acid mine runoff, which he said they historically haven’t done well.

Environmental review

Bob McFarlin, vice president of public and government affairs for Twin Metals Minnesota, told Kraker that Ely doesn’t have to take the mining company’s word for it. The project will go through a rigorous environmental review that will likely last several years.

“We believe and are strongly committed to protecting the environment and we believe we can protect the environment with our projects, and provide great economic benefit to the region,” McFarlin said. “But we’re not the ones that make that decision. We propose the project, and the regulatory agencies at the federal and state level will determine whether our project can move forward.”

Today’s Question: Do you support copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?

  • Gary F

    Good private sector union jobs. That’s what built the Iron Range.

  • reggie

    With a thorough and rigorous environmental review, I’d support more mining, with one additional check and balance: the companies must explicitly accept UNLIMITED liability for any adverse environmental and economic damage they cause. The best check would be for the mining company executives to also be personally liable for any such damage, but I doubt that would happen.

    The free market principle of rewarding those who take risks needs to be balanced with the corollary: those who want the reward must not shift the risk to the public.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I trust Minnesota more than many other jurisdictions to regulate this sort of mining. Balance is needed. Economic prosperity is not the highest good, nor is “unspoiled” wilderness (as if such a thing exists).

    • Swanmaiden

      What reason do you have to “trust Minnesota more than many other jurisdictions” Given the varied laws that cover the various lands of the region it is enormously complex to even know what the laws are that govern a particular area. They vary from County, Federal, State, School Trust, and private ownership. They vary when one entity owns both mineral and surface estate or not. Which set of laws and which governance is it that you are trusting? Is there real economic prosperity or simply imagined and hoped for “prosperity” and for whom? I totally agree that “unspoiled” or pristine wilderness is unlikely to be found in most of the Arrowhead but there is some and there is value in what is not “pristine” Just because we’ve harmed it before does not give license to harm it again in new ways.

      • Steve the Cynic

        For instance, I just heard this morning that similar mineral explorations are going on in Wisconsin, and their business-pandering political leadership are drooling at the prospect. Maybe it would be more correct if I had said, “distrust Minnesota less,” but the fact is that there are places in the world where extractive industries get much less scrutiny than they do here.

    • david

      It’s not that the wilderness is “unspoiled” it’s the fact that it’s one of the last closest things to that in the lower 48 if anywhere.

      • Steve the Cynic

        It’s human nature to alter the environment and use natural resources. I’m not denying the recreational and ecological value of wilderness, but the idea that there’s something deeply special or sacred about it is pure ideology.

        • david

          Have you ever canoed the BWCAW?

          • Steve the Cynic

            Yep.

          • david

            And you weren’t impressed? I personally would find it a tremendous loss if some Chilean mining company destroyed it and then skips town, as they are prone to do. Especially when I won’t gain one single thing from their efforts in the best of circumstances.

          • Steve the Cynic

            Impressed? Sure. But I can be impressed by lots of things, some natural and some artificial. The BWCAW is valuable, but not infinitely so. The minerals under the ground near the BWCAW are also valuable, but not infinitely so. It’s a matter of balancing competing values.

          • david

            It is, but as has been proven again and again the game is rigged.

  • Jim G

    No. I don’t support mining near Ely. The Twin Metals site owned by a Chilean mining company is 3 miles from in the vacation land of the BWCA.

    Mining metals locked in sulfide-ore will produce sulfuric acid run-off. This might be okay in an arid climate like Chile, but not in the fresh water lake and stream country of Minnesota. Mining companies are infamous for their failed projections for controlling pollution. To get the permits to mine these metals mining companies will promise us the moon, but all we’ll be left with is the moon’s geography when these companies are done with Minnesota… after having turned our vacation land inside out.

  • Jeff

    Perhaps people don’t realize the history of Ely, but the mining and lumber industries have existed in and around that area well before the BWCA was created. You know Miner’s Lake (Pit) right in Ely? That was an old underground iron mine. The BWCA was a logging haven 50-100 years ago, logging was still going on in and around the BWCA up until 1979. Keep in mind that the mining is not going to happen within the BWCA it will occur miles away and it will bring jobs and rejuvenate the local economy. I support the mining and I have been going to the BWCA for over a decade now.

    • Swanmaiden

      That is incorrect Jeff – even exploration sites in the area are still oozing toxic waste right now. The area is incredibly vulnerable to harm and none of the off the shelf “technology” offered to “mitigate” it will be sufficient to protect the area or any area of the water rich Arrowhead from harm. Political pressure is not a sufficient reason to risk our water.

      • Jeff

        Not a single thing I stated was incorrect. In fact, I’ll keep my eyes open for “oozing toxic waste” while canoeing and swimming in the BWCA lakes…if I don’t see any then you’d be incorrect. This is about the local economy, have you even been to Ely before? I’m sorry but I get tired of people who never go to the BWCA, never spend time in the town of Ely or only go to the BWCA and want to prevent the local economy from growing to prevent the minuscule risk of a problem from happening. When you fish in the BWCA there are all sorts of warning about eating the fish…which isn’t due to a mining disaster…it’s due to high levels of natural Mercury in the BWCA waters. Please speak from experience and don’t assume mining will result in some sort of environmental catastrophe. BTW, I did go fishing in the old iron mine known as Miner’s Lake in Ely last year…I have no problem eating the fish (mostly trout) out of that lake.

        • Swanmaiden
          • Swanmaiden

            Unfortunately Jeff, you’re wrong.
            http://www.startribune.com/business/104188178.html

            Pollution problems near the Boundary Waters are raising concerns about future Minnesota mining projects.

            Environmental groups have found high concentrations of metals leaching into streams and wetlands from two long-closed sources: one old test mine and one abandoned mine. The pollution runs off waste rock excavated decades ago and piled at the sites.

            Alerted by a resident near Ely, Friends of the Boundary Waters collected samples of the seeping water at one of the sites this summer.

            An independent lab analysis confirmed that it contained arsenic, copper, nickel and iron at concentrations hundreds of times higher than state water quality standards allow for chronic exposure.

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            “These are toxic levels to animal life, and the arsenic is too high for humans,” said Betsy Daub, policy director for Friends.

            The findings come as several firms are on the verge of developing the first large mines in Minnesota in decades, investments that could climb into the billions. The mines would also be the first to extract and process copper, nickel and other precious metals instead of taconite.

            Daub said the runoff should be a red flag for those future mines, especially those that would be within a few miles of the Boundary Waters.

            The samples came from a small test mine that International Nickel Co. excavated in 1974. The waste rock remained in a pile that was covered. From it, water seeps across an area stained orange from the metals and into a nearby wetland about 3 miles from the Boundary Waters.

            State pollution control officials said that the wetland dilutes the metals and that they consider the seepage minor.

            “Sometimes it’s damp, sometimes it’s dry and sometimes there’s a tiny bit of flow,” said hydrogeologist Richard Clark of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). “It doesn’t reach our threshold for monitoring.”

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            Daub said the seeping metals show that even on an extremely small scale, mining sulfide rock for copper, nickel and other precious metals will produce acid drainage and contamination that are too risky for the environment.

            99 percent waste

            Several mines are in the planning stages along a line stretching northeast from Hoyt Lakes past Babbitt toward Ely. The $600 million PolyMet project is the most advanced, with a formal proposal undergoing environmental review. Franconia Minerals, Duluth Metals and other firms have also identified deposits and are at various stages of engineering or feasibility studies.

            Copper-nickel mines have produced acid drainage elsewhere in the country. Where sulfide ore is unearthed and exposed to air and water, it produces a weak sulfuric acid. The acid in turn dissolves the ore and releases heavy metals such as arsenic, copper, nickel, lead and mercury into nearby wetlands, streams and waters.

            Geophysicist Dave Chambers reviewed the Friends’ test mine results and said they’re not surprising, since rain and snowmelt flow rapidly through porous piles of waste rock and leach out metals. Chambers works with the Center for Science in Public Participation in Bozeman, Mont., a nonprofit organization that gives technical advice about mining to regulatory agencies, businesses and environmental groups.

            “In virtually every type of mine, over 99 percent of everything you mine becomes waste and is left right on the site as a waste pile of some sort,” Chambers said. “When metals from the piles get into the water, they can be toxic to aquatic organisms at very low concentrations.”

            Acid mine drainage has not been a problem for taconite, which usually is contained in different ore that contains little or no sulfides.

            An exception in Minnesota is the Dunka mine, a taconite mine near Babbitt that was covered with sulfide rock. LTV Steel Mining Co. operated the Dunka mine from 1964 to 1994 and stockpiled more than 20 million tons of waste rock. For decades the piles — 80 to 100 feet high and extending for almost a mile — have been leaching copper, nickel and other metals into wetlands and streams that flow into Birch Lake not far from the Boundary Waters. An average of 300,000 to 500,000 gallons runs off them each month, according to MPCA documents.

            The Center for Biological Diversity and two other environmental groups charged in early 2010 that the runoff had violated state water standards nearly 300 times since 2005. The MPCA was also looking into the matter, and negotiated a $58,000 fine and cleanup agreement last March with Cliffs Erie, which now owns the site.

            For Carla Arneson, who lives in the area, the fine was too small and the MPCA is “working the numbers” to make the pollution seem insignificant. “Our lakes are worth far more than any minerals that are going to be taken out of this state,” she said.

            Arneson said Dunka is an indicator of problems to come from the proposed PolyMet copper nickel mine a few miles away. Company officials have said they will put waste rock on synthetic liners to capture and treat any runoff. The project is receiving extra environmental study after an earlier review did not answer many questions about potential pollution.

            New era of mines

            Ann Foss, director of strategic projects for the MPCA, said that any copper-nickel mining will be scrutinized rigorously by both state and federal agencies. Firms will need to meet strict water-quality standards and provide financial assurance to protect the environment long after any mines are closed, she said.

            “There will be a lot of analysis,” Foss said. “There’s a lot more required today than ever before.”

            Christopher Dundas, chairman of Duluth Metals Limited, said that historical problems have no bearing on or relevance to the underground copper-nickel mine that his firm is planning to develop in Minnesota. “This is a completely different era than what happened in the ’60s,” said Dundas. “Our operation will be state of the art and will be totally planned and designed to absolutely minimize every environmental issue.”

            However, Bruce Johnson, a former MPCA worker and DNR field chemist who worked on Dunka and other mining issues, said he fears that state agencies will shortcut environmental rules because of the intense political pressure to approve mines and put people to work. “I want to have good jobs, too, but I want to do it right,” Johnson said. “These guys are going to make multi-millions of dollars. We don’t want to be left with a bunch of mining pits full of polluted water that even ducks won’t land on.”

            Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

          • Floppy

            Replying with Star Trib or Fiends of the Fake BWCA is like beating a blind person in bowling. FAIL!

        • cama1

          Where did you get your information concerning mercury levels in the Boundary Waters? The high mercury levels in fish are NOT due to high natural mercury levels in the waters. It is primarily due to atmospheric mercury sources (wet and dry deposition), and poor buffering capability by the
          lakes; as well as sulfates, reactive carbon, bacteria, etc., all of which contribute to mercury (methylmercury) bioaccumulation in the fish. The majority of the atmospheric deposition of mercury comes from anthropogenic sources. “It has been estimated that anthropogenic activities have
          increased global atmospheric mercury emissions by at least a factor of 3 relative to natural emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (Andren and Nriagu 1979).”

          In the St. Louis River Watershed mercury levels in fish are
          attributable to mining industry releases of mercury and sulfate.

          In the Kawishiwi River Watershed, heavy metal contamination of fish occurred in Birch Lake from taconite mining at the Dunka Mine. In 1985, the tissue data for livers and flesh of fish in Bob Bay of Birch Lake showed significantly higher concentrations for nickel, zinc, and copper than fish in other areas of the lake. MPCA documents at the time referred to a “density current” or a “slug” of water, “high in conductivity, metals, and sulfate.” You could even say it “oozed.” Dunka still does not meet standards, even though testing is being done at illegal locations instead of legally at the point source. Unnamed Creek is a 7Q10 water, meaning it cannot be used for dilution. Yet it is being used that way for testing; and discharges still cannot meet standards.

        • cama1

          Since you scoffed at “oozing,” here is one photo of a drill boring that is oozing. At least a couple of thousand exploratory drill holes already puncture the fractured sulfide bearing rock of the Duluth Complex, drilled straight through and interconnecting aquifers; conduits, along with faulted and fractured rock, for whatever contamination occurs. These drill borings do not have to be capped (sealed) for ten years, and are not properly inspected. I also have photos of broken off or open pipes, one broken pipe with a beer can stuffed down it.

  • kimbr

    At this time, no. I am trying to be understanding and compassionate about my fellow locals (I live just outside of Ely) and their desire for well-paying jobs with benefits. I feel for those who work 12 hour days only to have to drive 75 miles each way to work. But I’m not convinced this is the right answer for our area. Beyond ourselves, we have a responsibility to protect the fresh water in the area from further contamination. The mines in the area have already polluted lakes and river, and we’re starting to see results in a positive direction. I’d hate to go backwards. I’m also not convinced they have a means to truly repair any water that is damaged. They say they have the ability to purify the water to be better than our drinking water. I highly doubt putting gallons of that type of water into our rivers and lakes will have a positive effect on the water plant life and thus the entire chain of life in the BWCA. BP said their oil disperssants wouldn’t affect wildlife either, yet now we are learning that it has. It’s not an easy question, and there are a lot of hard feelings on both sides of the issue here in town. It’s unfortunate and sad to see. But I think both side mean well, and I do sympathize with their need for better jobs in the area.

  • Michael

    Not if we have to mine from the top. We need to find ecological ways of obtaining resources. Henry Ford suggested that we grow hemp crops to supply that which we would cut down forests and mine the earth. We need to consider more of our human genius and ingenuity instead of greed.

    • Swanmaiden

      open pit mining will be permitted if the lands are not owned by the federal government under their purchases under the Weeks Act. That is the intent of much of the land exchanges proposed now. They strip federal ownership from the surface lands thus allowing now forbidden open pit strip mining. This will open up lands in the Superior National Forest to the manner of devastating mining called open pit mining that has been done across the Iron Range. They can’t do it when the land is protected by federal ownership under the Weeks Act – as are the lands around Polymet – which they desperately want to trade and thus eliminate protections. There are many ways to get rid of laws other than changing laws. They’re way ahead of the people on this.

  • Mike

    This kind of mining is a choice for short-term gains at the cost of long-term devastation. Most of the economic benefit of these mines would leave Minnesota as shareholders take the profits and leave behind degraded lands they will not insure. Sustainable natural resource and recreational jobs are good for residents of the range now and good for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come.

  • Pat S.

    Not worth the short term gains.

  • Quetico

    No. We should never take short terms gains at the expense of a long term sustainable economy for the region. Look at WIlliston ND. Few will argue the area will be a ghost town within 10 years when all the oil is gone or automated.Is this what we want for Ely?

    • Bud

      Polymet I believe is estimated to be a 20 year project while Twin Metals is estimated to be 100. Short term? Both tourism and mining can co-exist and already do now.

      • Jim G

        Iron ore rusts when wet. Sulfide-ores produce sulfuric acid when exposed to air and water. This isn’t your grandfather’s mining. When the streams and lakes can’t provide a livable environment for fish life there will be no reason for tourists to visit.

        • Bud
          • Jim G

            Biofilters are required to treat the acid pollution caused by these mines. Who or what entity will maintain these contraptions over the 2,000 year period these exposed sulfides will continually produce sulfuric acid? This is a rhetorical question.

          • Bud

            For review: http://www.polymetmining.com/northmet-project/sustainable-development/air-and-water-quality/

            Perhaps not the answer you wanted but then there are not too many 2,000 year old people around. There is a process under state regulation which will outlive all of us whether we approve of it or not. I’m not sure why we should be against a project that will improve the waters in what was an old mining project to begin with.

            Another question to ponder. Would your life be the same without modern conveniences that you currently use everyday and would you be willing to give them all up to prove a point? I think that people can best improve mining projects by suggesting improvements from an environmental perspective rather than denying the need of them. We as a society have already approved these projects by using the products made from them, to think otherwise is only fooling ourselves.

  • david

    No. If the mining industry didn’t have such a reputation for saying one thing and doing another in the name of profit then maybe. Fact is when they mess up, we will be paying to clean it up, and suffering the consequences, not them. If you need a job, learn to program a computer, anything, digging a hole is not a long term viable long term career. And if need be do what the rest of us have had to do, move.

  • KL

    The question is a strange one – I think whether folks support mining in the Duluth Complex is the more rational question but the real question is does our existing science support it and is it a risk that is rational to take. Given the strict protections in the BWCAW it seems unlikely that area will be more vulnerable than the county and state and other federal and school trust lands of the rest of the Arrowhead Region, all of which are governed by different sets of laws that allow different and widely ranging activities – from open pit strip mining to forestry with profit elevated in importance over conservation. If folks do not realize there are varied laws protecting our forests they had better start with that. Then look at the range of the Duluth Complex – mining can be done from north of the Canadian Border to south near Aitkin. Giving the impression that the BWCAW is the area most threatened by this mining seems misleading to the point of being bizarre. The Lake Superior, Rainy River and Mississippi Watersheds are all at risk with the Lake Superior and St. Louis River first and foremost under threat due to the enormous political pressure to permit Polymet Northmet which drains primarily into the Lake Superior Watershed. I’m kind of surprised that NPR would not accurately reflect the existing situation accurately. Get with it NPR. This is a problem facing Duluth, the Arrowhead, the Fond du Lac Community, Ely, the North Shore, Lake Superior, St. Louis River and Rainy River. The BWCAW is part of the area but it is NOT the only valuable part worthy of protection. I think the people of the region deserve protection too.

  • KL

    The threat of copper nickel/hardrock/non ferrous mining broadening its reach into the Duluth Complex is one that faces all of the Arrowhead, in particular those living downstream from it – including those in Fond du Lac and Duluth and Ely – as the water flows in all directions from the Duluth Complex which encompasses the Continental and Laurentian divides. We have to take a very careful look and understand the repercussions will be felt long beyond the lifetimes of anyone making decisions about the matter now. Allowing companies to extract our resources and sell them on the open market around the world for profit to those corporations is what is being discussed. The extent to which we trust corporations and our elected officials to accurately interpret scientific information and the accuracy of that information is what we rely upon as well as the correct choices regarding risk taking by public officials. The minerals are safely stored right now in Minnesota and will be there until we dig them up , there is no rush but that for profit and population – how respond is an enormously important choice and none of us should tolerate a rush to decision “streamlining” is just another word for shortcuts. We will live with the repercussions of mining in the Duluth Complex for thousands of years, the issue of “perpetual treatment” comes with consideration of changes in monetary systems and governments and society’s ability to follow through on its promises. Choosing to do it when and if we decide it is safe in the water rich environment of the Arrowhead is our responsibility. Water is the more critical resource and more critical to our region and nation in the near future.

  • JA

    Looking at the drought map of the US shows that abundant clean water is fast becoming one the greatest public resources of Minnesota. Protecting this water must be a higher priority than short-term profits for any private company.
    Sustainable jobs can be had in the development of technology to store and distribute sustainable energy sources.

    • Swanmaiden

      The disruption of wetlands within the watershed of Lake Superior that will be required for the planned mining will impact water flow. Wetlands serve many functions including purifying water and acting like big sponges tempering the impact of large rain events. Think of it as the sponge on the kitchen counter that sops up some of the spilled milk resulting in less getting on the floor. Think of the rain event last year and the implications of more rain events like that in the future with climate change.

  • Jan Hogle

    Minnesota’s environmental reviews are flawed and the process is skewed to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for local communities to protect themselves against mining interests when there are legitimate concerns about environmental impacts.

  • Jan Hogle

    These environmental reviews are flawed and the process is skewed to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for local communities to protect themselves against mining interests when there are legitimate concerns about environmental impacts.

  • John

    The likelihood of real pollution from this type of mine is scary. This isn’t the same thing as mining taconite. There’s a huge mess in western Montana from this type of mine. We’d better learn from history and say no to this. Never mind the handful of jobs, and never mind the profits of the hedge funds and other 1 percent owners. We owe getting this one right to future generations.

  • Michael

    No, I don’t.

    “Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” – Henry Ford

  • BJ

    Not a chance. The long term risks far outweigh the short term gain.

  • Small Soda

    This is a very sad development which suggests a squeeze play by anti-environmental capitalists exploiting our economic downturn in order to push through their hazardous exploits, offering crumbs for a while to a few while jeopardizing resources for the many. I didn’t think it could happen in the extreme here in Minnesota, but there it is. You can study how this story unfolds all over the nation. One that has been profiled on PBS is oil in Louisiana, and how it destroyed a sustainable fishing industry for a few years of good industrial pay, leaving the people more impoverished than ever.

    Copper mining is the worst of the worst, next to gold mining in the devastation which it wrecks.

  • Kurre

    No, I do not support the proposed Twin Metals and Polymet mining proposals. As a born & raised northern Minnesota resident, I believe the risks of sulfide pollution to the BWCA is too great. In addition, the economic impact on the health of our northern lakes, tourism dollars would be devastating.

    • Swanmaiden

      What about Lake Superior? The St. Louis River? Fond du Lac?

  • Lori Andresen

    The entire Arrowhead Region of Minnesota is threatened by copper-nickel sulfide mining, which poses a significant potential for contaminating two internationally
    important watersheds, the Lake Superior and Boundary Waters watersheds.

    Mineral exploration and mineral leasing currently taking place is already negatively impacting wildlife, tourism, recreation, and home, business and cabin property values in areas being explored.

    Minnesota needs to enact a Wisconsin type “Prove-It-First” moratorium on sulfide mining.

  • Jeff

    Here’s the big problem, we have a society that thinks that we must do everything in the name of the environment. No one takes the time to understand the consequences of always taking the side of the environment no matter what…it’s the same reason why we haven’t built a refinery or nuclear power plant in 30+ years; regular power plants are met with fierce resistance, the XL Keystone pipeline can’t get built and now mining is being attacked at every turn.

    Environmentalists are the reason gasoline is at $4 per gallon today, we simply cannot build another refinery without massive protest, we can’t built the XL Keystone pipeline, we can’t even drill off the east coast. Keep up the good work but please don’t dare ever complain about gasoline prices, don’t ever talk about heating pries and be glad that what they’re fighting against what is most beneficial to society (how ridiculous is it that these people prevent nuclear power, when that’s the cheapest, most reliable form of energy without producing CO2?).

    This cult of Gaea is no different than other religions…there is no common sense, there is no evaluation between cost and benefit, it is based on pure faith and no fact could turn them from their beliefs. This comment section proves that the far left has no grounding in the real world when so many people don’t bother to weigh the pros and cons…it’s all cons…that’s not science…that’s a belief!

    • david

      No common sense? All the drilling and pipe lines in the world will not lower the price if gas. That is because as soon as it goes down, people buy a bigger car, or move further away from where they drive to every day. Its supply and demand, not some environmentalist, Obama, liberal conspiracy. If you want to pay less for gas do what I did, buy an efficient car and move closer to work. That’s the only common since approach. If they build this keystone pipeline today, gas will be just as expensive tomorrow. We will only get the risk of piping that crazy toxic sludge across our country for it to just be exported to the highest bidder. The profits will go to a few in canada and the bill to clean up the mess will mostly be the responsibility will be the US tax payers, who will still be paying for $4+ gallon gas the entire time. Common sense is very few will gain anything from these endeavors, but many more will suffer should history yet again repeat itself and an environmental problem occurs. The common since approach is to conserve resources, but I have yet to hear a “conservative” push for that one.

    • KTN

      With a new nuclear plant costing in the 8-9 billion range, regulation is not stopping Xcel from developing a new plant, the incredible capitaization costs are what stops development. Who is going to pay for a new plant in Minnesota. How much will rates rise after a 8 billion dollar cap investment. Nuclear needs to be part of the mix, but it makes no sense to build one here. The state does not have the population to support another nuclear plant (unless of course you want to pay really high rates to pay for that building).

      Oh, and the world market dictates the price of oil, not drivers in Minnesota. Another conservative who hates the idea of entitlements, except when it comes to gasoline, then we are entitled to the cheapest in the world because we are Americans.

      • Jeff

        Nuclear power is the cheapest, most reliable and most efficient source of power over a 50 year period of time. Too much short term thinking prevents that $8-9 billion of front investment. I agree that oil prices are determined on the world market but the fact that a large refinery has not been built in the US in 30+ years IS the reason gasoline prices in Minnesota went to $4.40/gallon last week. Gasoline prices in other parts of the country were averaging $3.50/gallon while we paid $4.40. I’m not sure how you can suggest it’s an entitlement to pay low gas prices, governments cause gas prices to be high in other parts of the world…literally 50%+ of the price of gasoline in most European countries is pure tax. The only thing I would ask is for free competition between energy sources, no more ethanol subsidies, electric car credits or wind/solar energy credits. BTW, fossil fuel businesses do not get subsides they get the same tax credits that all other business get…just like mining & forestry companies get the mineral depletion allowance (even individuals get those tax breaks) and all businesses get a tax break for putting funds in to R&D. If you want to have a wider conversation about eliminating some of those tax breaks for all businesses to allow lower corporate tax rates I would be very open to that discussion but I will not participate in demonizing a specific industry as part of a political attack/strategy.

    • Michael

      “Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?” – Henry Ford

    • cama1

      Here’s the big problem, we as a society think we are not part of the environment. Nothing we do will affect us. The planet will always recover. And our children are paying the price. Read “The Autism Puzzle” by Brita Belli.

  • EP

    Absolutely not. Our agencies don’t require the taconite companies to meet standards. They are all operating under variances and/or expired permits. No attempt is being made to clean up existing mining pollution–which indicates that either no one knows how or that it’s too expensive. Furthermore, mining operations of this size and magnitude cannot be done without drastically altering the environment and using and contaminating our waters. Due to the very nature of the sulfide ores and the very low-grade deposit (less than 1% metals), copper-nickel mining would be even worse than taconite. Anyone who believes that “rigorous environmental review” will solve these problems is being deceived. To add to already lax regulation of the mining industry, politicians are putting pressure on the agencies to permit new mining and are weakening the process by “steamlining” environmental review.

  • Brandon from Chisholm

    support it, absolutely

  • Bud

    I absolutely support precious metals mining.

    Pretty interesting to read the continuing amount of misinformation believed by a large number of readers of this forum. Have a look at the Twin Metals and Polymet websites for resource information. In regards to Northern Minnesota, yes we support these projects wholeheartedly. There is a regulatory process which it must get through for these projects to advance. How about reporting on the Reverse Osmosis process being used as we type at Polymet? Perhaps we could discuss all of the precious metals used in your car, cell phone, laptop computer? Perhaps we could discuss children in other countries working long hours and bad conditions in mines. How about the environmental destruction under limited standards in other countries because there are a few of you that can’t have it in your back yard. Do you know what supports “green” energy. Precious metals are involved in all of these products including solar and wind energy which is being pushed so heavily in the Twin Cities area. Start looking a little more instead of copying and pasting talking points. There is a lot more that can researched. You deserve better.

    • Michael

      You know what supports green energy? Soil, water sun, hemp seed.

    • cama1

      READ THEIR DISCLAIMERS for resource information.

      No, “we” do not support these projects wholeheartedly; many people in northeastern Minnesota do NOT support them.

      

Reverse osmosis is nothing new. A small test is not reality; it is no comparison to an operating mine and not scientifically defensible. There is no evidence that they even ran actual mining wastewater through the process. And only a portion of wastewater from an operating mine would be treated. No mention is made concerning the toxicity of brine from backwashing the plugged filters, which would be a necessity. Back flush water along with untreated wastewater goes to the leaking (by design) tailings basin. Also, reverse osmosis does nothing for nickel, hardness, or chemicals.

      Perhaps we need to discuss why we as a country do so little recycling and use far more of the world’s resources than other countries? Why do we continually need a new cell phone, a new computer, a new television, a new car, a new boat, in some cases every year or two? At some point we have to take the blinders off and conserve.

      According to World Population Balance, “If all of the world’s 7 billion people consumed as much as an average American, it would take the resources of over five Earth’s to sustainably support all of them. On overage, each American uses nearly 20 acres of biologically productive land and water (biocapacity) per year.” We are already seeing some of Minnesota’s aquifers in danger of depletion.

      How about taking responsibility for our unthinking consumption? Instead of putting sulfide mines in water rich, heavily faulted environments that guarantee failure.

      Perhaps we also need to recognize that mining companies do the destruction in other countries. A standard does not. Do we trust an industry that only mines to a limited standard instead of safely? The “poor standards” line is the mining industry’s favorite cover-up ploy for “it cannot be done safely,” or “we do not care enough” to mine without polluting.

      Sulfide mining in Minnesota’s water rich lake country will not change how corporations mine in other countries. We will not save one child in another country unless we force companies to have clean records. Norway is one country that is now considering not investing in mining companies with poor records; and it did exactly that five years ago when it dropped a hefty investment in Rio Tinto. Yet, Rio Tinto Kennecott has been exploring mineral leases in Minnesota unquestioned. Jon Cherry was basically a Rio Tinto company man before heading up PolyMet.

      Did you know that the U.S. exports copper? Take a look to whom. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/eco_tra_wit_us_us_exp_of_cop-economy-trade-us-exports-copper The copper in Minnesota’s Duluth Complex would be sold on the open market. Selling the copper is how PolyMet and Twin Metals would pay for their projects; the remaining small percentage of other various metals is where they would make their profits. Despite the hype, the Duluth Complex is so disseminated that mining it is economically borderline. Operational cost and project feasibility is dependent on how the approximately 99% waste is handled. Which, from the corporate perspective, also equates to the less money spent on protecting our water the better. Less money spent, more profit. Profit is the driver. Promises are cheap.

      Ironically, our waters also make it feasible for companies like Antofagasta to mine here, since it is literally running out of water for its operations in its own country. Not only did it deplete aquifers, Antofagasta also polluted waters in Chile, in an arid region.

      Solar and wind energy are not totally clean energy when coupled with the destruction involved from the metals used. Why are we not investing more in energy research and support for other promising alternatives? It is not in the best interests of industries like mining (metals and coal), oil, and natural gas to have competition. Oilmen like T. Boone Pickens are now heavily invested in wind energy and natural gas, as well as in oil. It is still all about control and money. Theirs.

      Minnesotans need to take a stand to protect our waters; it is the one resource we can still call our own.

  • Bud
  • Al F.

    There are already boundaries to the BWCAW and regulations for the mines to follow. I am definitely in favor of precious metal mining in the Ely area!

  • Mike

    I am opposed.to all three of the major explorations, Polymet, Twin Metals, and Rio Tinto.
    First there is no established emergency cleanup fund to be used shouid the mining company go bankrupt or abandon it’s mine.
    2. While the mining companies are saying they will provide good paying jobs, none have committed to collective bargaining with their employees. A similar situation at Mesabi Nugget, a Taconte mine next to Polymet, has some of the Nugget Employees making as little as $11/hr. MN should not give up it’s non renewable resources to the lowest bidder.
    3. There will be no value added jobs, none of these proposed mines have any plans to refine these minerals locally. Most of these companies are sending there ore to another country to be processed. We are taking all the enviromental risks and getting very little in return..

  • Ted Schlosser

    I support using state of the art technology in the most environmentally regulated state of the union. The scientific environmental review process will give us the most comprehensive look at this that has ever done.

    We can do it the right way here in Minnesota, or we can continue to purchase our metals from countries with almost no regulation and extremely toxic output. It’s time that we evolved into the modern mining era and do it right. We can set the stage for the rest of the world following suit.

  • Nancy

    Yes I support the proposed copper/nickel mining projects near the Boundary Waters. Technology today is far superior to that used fifty years ago. We can be thankful that INCO didn’t mine in the 1970s. We can mine safely and protect our watersheds. To oppose copper/nickel mining is basically saying lets continue getting these metals from the polluting countries of Russia, China, Brazil, Chili, etc. What happened to think globally and act locally?

  • AnnieB

    1) Water is going to be a more valuable commodity than metal, so we should conserve it.
    2) The pollution will flow into the BW CAW since one of the major mines will be along the Kawishiwi River which is a major watershed in the BWCAW.
    3) Of the rich ore deposit being mined by Twin metals, half of it extends into the BWCAW and they are mining right up to the boundary.
    4) Sulphide mining doesn’t have any record of environmental safety.

    • Bud

      Water is valuable and mining supporters agree that we should protect it, let the environmental permitting process do its job or the projects will not proceed.

      #2 is an opinion so will not comment on it other than to say there is already an open pit mine along this river system following current environmental regulations and oversight. Twin Metals will be an underground mine.

      #3 Mining will not occur in the BWCA which is a common misconception not stated here but seems to be implied.

      Regarding #4 comment: See following link to follow up on full article:

      https://www.facebook.com/notes/we-support-minnesota-mining/letter-to-the-editor-mary-tome-on-fact-checking-environmentalist-claims/294590064010321

      From the article:

      Reading into the report further I found that 4 of the mines
      studied actually had no impacts on the water quality. This definitely
      disputes Betsy’s claim that “100% of sulfide mines have created water
      pollution.” One of those mines, the Mesquite Mine, has been operating
      for 26 years. Perhaps she should have read the whole report before
      referencing it.

      Betsy Daub’s claims at the UMD forum were more than misleading or disingenuous, they were downright lies.

      • cama1

        I do not know what the fourth mine is that Mary Tome was referring to in her article, but she should have been more forthright. The three mines I did find in a quick read (of the report she referenced) were all in the California desert: American Girl, Castle Mountain, and Mesquite. The Mesquite Mine that she specifically referred to gets three inches of rain a year and the “closest perennial surface water feature” is a canal 15 miles away. The report also indicated that the waste rock “is not acid generating.” The ore was “in gneiss and granite. No mention of carbonates or sulfides”

        That is certainly not the case in the Duluth Complex with its sulfide bearing rock, all smack dab in the middle of the wetlands, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, rainfall, snowfall, etc. of northern Minnesota. You get the picture. And you both owe Betsy Daub an apology.

        The only sulfide mine the industry is trotting out is Flambeau, and it claims the contamination there does not matter. If there were any sulfide mines that did not contaminate water, I am sure the industry itself would be informing us.

      • cama1

        #2

        The “open pit” I assume you are referring to “along this river system” is Dunka. In the Kawishiwi River Watershed, heavy metal contamination of fish occurred in Birch Lake from mining operations at the Dunka Mine. Dunka was a small taconite mine that started to act like a sulfide mine because part of it was in the Duluth Complex. Discharges from waste rock stockpiles were released to Unnamed Creek to Bob Bay of Birch Lake. In 1985, the tissue data for livers and flesh of fish in Bob Bay of Birch Lake showed significantly higher concentrations for nickel, zinc, and copper than fish in other areas of the lake. MPCA documents at the time referred to a “density current” or a “slug” of water, “high in conductivity, metals, and sulfate” moving into Bob Bay from Dunka. Dunka still does not meet standards, even though in an attempt to do so, testing is being done at incorrect locations (in violation) instead of correctly at the outfalls where the pipe (point source) meets the waters of the State. Unnamed Creek is a 7Q10 water, meaning it cannot be used for dilution. Yet it is being used exactly that way for testing; and the discharges still do not meet standards, Dunka is under enforcement action for metals discharges. Dunka is a red flag. If they cannot clean up the contamination, whether unforeseen or not at Dunka, immense sulfide mines in the area would be a disaster.



        Dunka is closed, so why are there operational permits with variances given by the MPCA? There are no operations. Are they giving a permit to pollute? Dunka should be designated a Superfund site and cleaned up, if possible. Now.

  • NMc

    No, pollution will not flow into the Boundary Waters. We, who live here, will make sure the mining is done right.

    No, there is no buffer zone to the Boundary Waters. I’m sure Twin Metals will not be mining to the boundary.

    Yes, Flambeau is an excellent example of copper/nickel mining done without pollution the watershed. A fine of $275 for MINOR violations indicates there was no impact to area waters. The court even denied court costs for the plaintiffs.

    http://www.flambeaumine.com/documents/news_releases/plaintiffs-motion-to-amend-judgment_00626147.pdf

    Wisconsin DNR is very pleased with the Flambeau Mine reclamation.
    http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Mines/Flambeau.html
    Many mines have become beautiful recreational area in reclamation. Ely’s Grand Ely Lodge sits on an ore dump; Miner’s Lake is a water fill mine pit/collapsed tunnels stocked with brook trout; the Trezona Trail circles Miner’s Lake; a snowmobile parallels the Trezona Trail.
    Plain and simple, the Rom/Reids, Piragis, Koschaks, Schurkes, Forsberg and other vocal opponents of copper/nickel mining that can be done safer and cleaner with new technology and strict regulations don’t want more people in Ely. All they care about is there own business. In Rom/Reid’s case, they want no disturbance of their retirement home.
    Very selfish, as Ely sits on life support with numerous storefronts empty, school enrollment decreasing, infrastructure and beautiful community buildings suffering because Ely doesn’t have the tax base to make all the repairs, and rather than young families with children moving into town, more and more retirement couple are moving in for the summer only.
    Ely is not a healthy community and it surely is not sustainable!

    • Bud

      Excellent commentary.

    • cama1

      This would be the beginning of a copper sulfide-mining district, and yes, pollution would flow into both the Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters (Kawishiwi River Watershed). The NorthMet Mine would be literally on the edge of the Laurentian Divide with a fault running under the mine site that continues beneath the Divide to the Kawishiwi Watershed, Langley Creek drains to a wetland that is also partially in the Kawishiwi Watershed but PolyMet conveniently left that portion of the wetlands off the maps in the SDEIS. There are numerous sulfide mines lined up to mine that would be completely in the Kawishiwi Watershed.

      There is no doubt that Twin Metals would mine to the edge of the Boundary Waters (a mile from the BWCAW), and it would be an open pit, because the resource is just as rich in the first thousand feet as it is 1,000 to 2,000 feet down; plainly written in the Regional Copper Nickel Study, the same area where INCO wanted to dig its open pit in the 1970’s.

      Using Flambeau as an example is a joke. Flambeau had no waste – no tailings basin – and it stil cannot meet standards. It was so small and localized all the ore and therefore its waste was shipped to Canada. The courts have never addressed the existing pollution because the Wisconsin DNR basically gave the company a permit that allowed it to pollute nearby waters. Flambeau was the size of a big gravel pit. PolyMet would be 99% toxic waste. Three mine pits; one close to 700 feet deep, overlying multiple fractures and faults.

      Miner’s Lake was an iron mine. PolyMet would be a copper sulfide mine. Very different!

      What is selfish are people who are willing to destroy our waters (the legacy of future generations) so they can have a mining job on the backs of everyone else; instead of working together to find a another future for the area. The only reason Ely was able to recover from iron mining was because it was Iron Mining (localized, little waste); nothing would be able to grow back after sulfide mining’s piles of toxic waste. And no one would come to live in an area surrounded by waste, or visit, after the mining is done. People choose first to live in beautiful communities; it’s just reality. That’s why Virginia is struggling; the taconite mines are operating full steam but the piles of waste make the place less than appealing to anyone not connected with mining. How come so many who work in the taconite mines choose the long commute in order to live in Ely or Tower instead of in Virginia or Babbitt or Hoyt Lakes?

      The taconite mines will run out of taconite, it’s a given, so now the recreation and tourism industries are supposed to go belly up to accommodate sulfide mining? How selfish is that? Some of the radical mining promoters hate the BWCAW because people lost their resorts, yet now they want to do the very same thing to those in the resort and outfitting business – only this time no one would pay resort owners a cent. And this time no one could blame the government for anything; mining cheerleaders who have bought the company lies would have caused it all.

  • Willis Mattison

    No, and I speak with some considerable basis in science experience and knowledge of Minnesota Pollution Control Rules as I served as an MPCA employee for 28 years. None, I repeat none of these sulphide mining companies have ever sucessfully demonstrated the necessary technology to protect water quality and meet applicable water quality effluent standards for this industry. This is why mining companies and lapdog politicians are mounting a full frontal attack on the state’s water quality standards that apply to them, especially the standards for sulphide compounds. The pending re-write of the Environmental Impact Statement is bound to contain wishy-washy language and “promises” but read the fine print folks. You will find (if they are honest this time) that they are “promising” to meet existing pollution control standards with, as yet, unavailble technology while secretly hoping that the “existing” standards magically (read that as “politically”) go away! I don’t accept this “slight of hand” kind of environmental review and the public should not either. Thank God the EPA coughed up their first attempt at this shell game when they rejected the first EIS and I can’t wait to see how they have “slicked up” the language of the EIS re-write.

  • Don Yerhot

    To say it bluntly, FUCK NO!

  • cama1

    NO.

    People in Ely who are trying to protect our waters are “pro-water.” Those who are continuing to ignore the science of sulfide mining in water rich environments, and the politics of Minnesota’s permitting, are denying our waters and our children protection.

    “For the last 100 some years we have mined this area,” she [Nancy McReady] said of the iron ore and taconite mining operations long done near Ely. “Yeah, it was a different form of mining. But we have taken care of the environment.” It needs to be pointed out after such remarks, that all operating taconite mines are in violation. It needs to be pointed out that the St. Louis River is severely impaired for mercury and heavily contaminated by sulfates, primarily from taconite mining; and as a result we are seeing damage to our children from methylmercury.

    The news media has the responsibility to ask the tough questions after statements such as, ‘”I don’t think anyone’s going to let them open up if they can’t be done safely,” said Mary Tome, a supervisor in Fall Lake Township, just outside Ely.’ Ask Tome to then explain why it has happened time and again. Nationwide and worldwide, including with companies proposing to mine in Minnesota, sulfide mines have been allowed to open up and allowed to pollute. Ask about Antofagasta’s dirty record. Ask why we have variances (permits to pollute) in Minnesota instead of enforcement of standards. Pro-water folks in Ely are justifiably concerned about the waters of northern Minnesota, our most valuable, sustainable resource.

    Ask the tough questions in response to statements like, “But we’re [Twin Metals] not the ones that make that decision. We propose the project and the regulatory agencies at the federal and state level determine whether our project can move forward.” (Bob McFarlin) Ask McFarlin why the wild rice/sulfate study was inundated with Chamber of Commerce attorneys who insisted methylmercury could not be brought up in the discussion; or ask why the wild rice study happened in the first place, when the science already existed to defend the sulfate standard. Ask why industry was allowed to kill wild rice in some of our waters and now those waters may no longer qualify for protection (because the wild rice is dead). Ask why Minnesota really pulled out of the St. Louis River mercury study (TMDL) when it is common knowledge within the agencies that any concerns about any part of a TMDL study can be discussed, and adjustments made by participants during the course of the study. Ask why our children were sold down the river.

    Both the Lake Superior and the Kawishiwi River watersheds matter to Minnesotans. It was Rick Sandri, former president of Duluth Metals who said, “PolyMet is the snowplow, and Duluth Metals is the car behind the plow.” Antofagasta is in the passenger seat now, but I assume Duluth Metals is still driving.

    If people are interested in learning more about the reality of sulfide mining read, “Boom, Bust, Boom,” by Bill Carter to see how copper mining companies operate. Or read, “Peril in the Ponds,” by Judy Helgen to see how Minnesota’s agencies operate. Both books will show you how politics operate.

    The reality: It does come down to sulfide mining or Minnesota’s waters, a Copper Range or the Arrowhead lake country. That is the choice. And if the public does not protest, loudly, there will be no choice; foreign corporations and the legislators who essentially work for them will take it away from us, along with our northern lake country. We only have to look as far as the taconite mines on the Iron Range to get a sense of what is left behind. Sulfide mining leaves much more waste, both in volume and toxicity.

    • Bud

      A comment in regard to the news media and watershed protection. The news media also has the responsibility to report accurately when the mining industry is doing something right. Regarding sulfate standards Polymet has a pilot plant in place treating water to meet Minnesota’s 10 parts-per-million sulfate standard for waters used for the production of wild rice.

      http://www.polymetmining.com/news/news-releases/polymet-reports-successful-water-treatment-pilot-plant/

      This process would actually improve the watershed being that it is recycling an old mine field and basin. They are actually doing something to improve the current water basin in that area. I don’t see why people should be against improving and recycling an old mining site. This water treatment process can be repeated when Twin Metals comes online which will be an underground project.

      I still believe we should let the permitting process and science involved run its course. Environmental standards in this state have evolved over time based upon the input of environmentally minded people and needed change. To attempt to halt that process now would be implementing a double standard when suitable to certain interests. Some of us may not like the rules but we all need to be playing by the same ones.

      • cama1

        Reverse osmosis is nothing new. A small test is not reality; it is no comparison to an operating mine and not scientifically defensible. There is no evidence that they even ran actual mining wastewater through the process. And only a portion of wastewater from an operating mine would be treated. No mention is made concerning the toxicity of brine from backwashing the plugged filters, which would be a necessity. Back flush water along with untreated wastewater goes to the leaking (by design) tailings basin. Also, reverse osmosis does nothing for nickel, hardness, or chemicals.

        Underground mining in an extensively faulted water rich environment just means the contamination will be hidden. Rock is fractured, almost impossible to track contamination in the groundwater. Research the contamination problems and the inability to anticipate groundwater movement at the radar base near Finland. This inability to track and predict groundwater movement because of fracturing was also verified by LTV engineers, when they were requested to predict pit infiltration water.

        The Regional Copper Nickel Study: MEQB-Vol3-CH1 Geology and Mineralogy Stevenson, Kreisman, Sather (TN433.M6m56xv.3ch1) Page 50. Regarding faults in the study area: “Cooper concluded that the entire area underlain by the Duluth Complex is extensively faulted and that this faulting may have played an important role in the localization of the copper nickel sulfide mineralization. Faults and joints contribute to the permeability of the bedrock for water movement.

        The Copper-Nickel Study also reported on page 21-22 in Vol. 3-CH2 Geology and Mineralogy (TN443.M6M56xv.3ch2): Surface subsidence concerns under Birch Lake exist if a mine is closer than 1,000′ from the surface. Regarding under lake mining: In addition if a high density fracture zone is encountered in such a situation not only would the possibility of subsidence increase, but water infiltration from the overlying lake on the surface and ground water system could greatly exceed estimates or data available to date. This water may be of poor quality and result in acute discharge problems. Just such an occurrence posed serious problems at INCO’s Shebandoan in Canada where nickel is being mined beneath a lake.

        I would also like to point out that when INCO was proposing to mine in Minnesota in the 1970’s, it was proposing an open pit mine. The Copper Nickel Study also indicated that in resource zone 1 (INCO, nearest the BWCA) the upper 1/2 (0-1000 ft.) of the Cu/Ni resource is 0.5% copper. Below 1000′ is 0.5% Cu. In resource zone 2 most of the resource is below 1000′ (but quantities exist from 0-1000′). This information can be found in Table 2. I do not believe that Duluth/Twin Metals has any intention of only having an underground mine. When equal resources are also near the surface, as indicated, there is every reason to believe there would also eventually be an open pit.

        The mistake you are making is that you obviously believe the mining companies are playing by the same rules. If my septic was leaking and contaminating your well, I am pretty sure you would not give me a variance (permission) or lobby to change the standards (law) so I did not have to be held responsible. When all taconite mines are polluting, either through variances or by not meeting standards, I am positive sulfide mining does not belong in our lake country. And we would be fools not to object to how the game is being played.

      • cama1

        P.S. Very little has changed in the rules since 1976; the one exception is mercury.

  • N

    No. This type of mining has never been done safely. It always pollutes the surrounding water. One day water will be more valuable than oil. The BWCA has some of the purest water in the USA. It’s actually a smart idea not to pollute the water in exchange for a few temporary jobs.

  • Tanner Starr

    I’m a registered Republican but I totally disagree with any mining in the area. I hate anything that could damage the environment and mining in this area is a terrible idea. The area around the BWCA is a fragile ecosystem and should be left untouched. I love it up there and it is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I hope mining will not be allowed.