Should mining be allowed in the BWCA watershed?

“The day after Gov. Mark Dayton laid out his opposition to mining on state lands near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, mining opponents looked ahead to a pending federal decision that will have further bearing on whether copper-nickel mines are to be developed within the watershed of the protected wilderness,” writes MPR News reporter Dan Kraker.

At issue are two federal mineral leases that Twin Metals Minnesota holds near Birch Lake and the South Kawishiwi River, southeast of Ely, Minn. Those leases expired at the end of 2013, and the company’s application to renew those leases has been pending with the federal Bureau of Land Management for more than three years.

Today’s Question: Should mining be allowed in the BWCA watershed?

Further reading: Water coverage from MPR News

  • Ralphy

    Extinct is forever. Once the BWCAW poisoned, it is ruined forever. For each $1 made by mining will cost Minnesota’s economy millions in lost tourism, clean up and related health care costs. A tragedy in the making.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Hell no! The BWCA is a national treasure. Would you allow a mine next to Arlington National Cemetery? Some things are too sacred to exchange for the Almighty Dollar.

  • Dave near Ely

    No, this type of mining has caused water pollution everywhere it has been done around the globe. It is not worth risking our nation’s most popular Wilderness area. My wife and I live and work on the edge of the Wilderness. Our jobs and most of the jobs of the people we know in the Ely area are directly tied to the Wilderness and would be severely threatened by Twin Metals and other mines that are being proposed along the edge of the Wilderness. I have visited test drilling sites less than 1/2 a mile from the edge of the Wilderness. Nearly half of the businesses on the Ely chamber of commerce website are directly down stream from the Twin Metals mine site. Our economy depends on the clean water and intact forests that would be threatened by mines like Twin Metals. It is not work the risk.

  • Pasque

    Absolutely not. I understand that people want jobs out there, but risking a fragile natural resource isn’t acceptable.

  • Sans Comedy

    Under no circumstances. There isn’t enough money to be made or jobs that could be temporarily created that could justify putting the BWCA at risk.

  • MaggieAnn

    Sulfide Mining should not be allowed in the BWCA watershed. But we do need to focus attention on finding jobs other than in sulfide mining in Northeastern Minnesota.

  • Brad Kaeter

    No, because I want that area to remain pristine for my children. Not everyone can afford a cabin on a lake, but most people can throw a canoe and supplies on a car, drive up and paddle in. It’s a huge treasure – not one I’m willing to wreck for a few mining jobs. There are other alternative industries that do not have such a potential long-term, negative impact.

  • Martin W. Masters

    It should only be allowed if there is a fail-safe method of controlling runoff. Any method that requires constant inflow of funds, energy, or labor is unacceptable.

  • John Imsdahl

    Absolutely not. I certainly empathize with the need to create jobs in Northern MN but the handful of temporary jobs that this mine would create are not worth the risk to the environment, or to the pocketbooks of Minnesotan taxpayers who would incur huge liability for the inevitable clean up.

  • Kari Hedin

    No. These mines will continue the boom and bust cycle, and in the end, all Minnesotans will be left with a legacy of pollution well past our own lifetimes. The Boundary Waters contribute a wealth of ecological services that are far more valuable than the revenue created by mining. PolyMet will also likely contribute water pollution to the Boundary Waters via groundwater, so a mine doesn’t have to be on the doorstep of the Boundary Waters to be a problem.

  • Frank Ongaro

    We already ARE mining in the BWCA watershed! And, we have been for 100 years.

    • Gordon near Two Harbors

      But not sulfide mining. Big difference.

  • Sandy Stehlin

    No mining, no more cell towers, no changes to the unique, sacred, beloved area known as the BWCA!!! Look at every stream in PA and see the legacy of mining. Look at the flattened mountains of WV and KY and see the legacy of mining. Their shallow pledges to clean up their messes…as if one extraction industry has EVER cleaned up after they have raped, pillaged and burned their way through one environmental disaster to another. Keep your reckless greed out of the BWCA!!!!!

  • Dustin Mohagen

    No! It is far easier to find/create a new job than it is to find/create a new ecosystem.

  • Daniel J. Peters

    No. The risks are too high, and the BWCA belongs to all of us, so we all have a shared voice in the protection of the jewel of MN. Sing it with me: They wanted to pollute the waters, and I said No, No, NO!

  • Lori Andresen

    No, or any other watershed in Minnesota. Three internationally important watersheds in northeast Minnesota, the Lake Superior, Mississippi and Rainy River watersheds are threatened by metallic sulfide mining. FYI – The BWCAW is actually in both the Rainy River and Lake Superior watersheds. PolyMet’s sulfide mine would be located on the headwaters of Lake Superior – and the Great Lakes itself. Because PolyMet is adjacent to the Laurentian Divide, mine pollution is expected to flow into both Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters.

    To protect our waters – we should enact a Wisconsin type “Prove it First” sulfide mining moratorium in Minnesota; where no mine shall be permitted unless it can show proof of a sulfide mine that has been closed for 10 years and is not polluting, and a sulfide mine that has been operating for 10 years without polluting–in a similar type of environment.

    Toxic industrial sulfide mine district

    PolyMet is being used as the “snowplow.” PolyMet openly speaks of excess
    processing capacity at its plant, and preliminary Twin Metal’s plans show sulfide mining waste and processing being directed into the Lake Superior watershed. On March 2, with minimal public announcement, the state Minnesota Executive Committee approved a new batch of sulfide mineral exploration leases in outlying areas across the Arrowhead Region. Once our agencies determine that sulfide mining can be done “safely” in the Arrowhead’s water rich environment, what is now
    Superior National Forest will be turned into a toxic industrial mining zone, with other mining companies waiting in the wings.

  • epalcich

    I’ve been following proposed copper-nickel mining in Minnesota since 2005. The more I have studied PolyMet’s proposed project, the more I have come to understand how terrible this would really be for the water and environment of northeast Minnesota. This issue isn’t just about PolyMet–it’s about the opening of a sulfide mining range, bordering the BWCAW and extending across to Lake Superior–thus contaminating two international watersheds while destroying the integrity of Superior National Forest. Copper-nickel mining should NOT be allowed in Minnesota, and our efforts should focus on cleaning up the taconite industry.

  • lindblomeagles

    At first blush, probably not. The BWCA brings the state lots of tourism dollars while the mines would bring individual owners lots of dollars. State would have to make up lost revenue from people who aren’t thrilled about seeing a mine there. The BWCA is also trying to reestablish moose and wolf populations in the area. I can’t see either species doing well with a mine, trucks, and workers’ cars operating 24 hours a day. But, one also has to wonder how profitable mining would be. As it is right now, the Iron Range is having difficulties because a lot of the mining jobs have gone overseas. Then there’s that pesky emission reduction goals that is in effect, and while copper and nickel aren’t on the list of things causing carbon emissions (coal is), it’s tough to be environmentally oriented on that issue if we’re harming the water at the same time we supposedly are trying to save the air.

  • Linda Silver

    Absolutely not!
    Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage they will leave for future generations?

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    The problem is many, if not most folks up here think that mining will save them. Certainly, iron mining has been a critical part of the economy for over a century, but automation and efficiency have eliminated thousands of jobs—and they aren’t coming back. A few hundred jobs, many of which won’t go to locals anyway, that copper-nickel mining would temporarily create is not worth risking a national treasure like the BWCA–especially when the State of Minnesota creates that many jobs every few days. In the modern age, you typical have to move to find a job, and that’s just fine.