COMMUNITY VOICES | Only compromise will stop Minnesota’s mining range war


2 thoughts on “COMMUNITY VOICES | Only compromise will stop Minnesota’s mining range war

  1. None of the proposed polymetallic sulfide mines would be on the Mesabi Iron Range. The mines would all be on Superior National Forest lands in the Duluth Complex, which underlies Minnesota’s lake country of the Arrowhead. Located outside the Mesabi Iron Range and outside the Biwabik Iron Formation, these lands have never been mined. There is literally a billion years of difference separating the Biwabik Iron Formation and the Duluth Complex – the Mid-continent Rift.

    We would be trading our lake country for a copper-nickel range, with the accompanying health impacts and costs. It is not a birthright. And the only ones that have such a claim to the land would be the Native Americans.

    These lands are not set aside for mining and forestry at the expense of our waters and our health.

    Since Christensen brought up his MinnPost piece he really should have also brought up the fact that he had major scientific errors in it, including of omission: iron-reducing bacteria and mercury methylation. No one in Minnesota is researching it.

  2. Wow, there is so much mis-information in this article that it’s hard to know where to begin.

    For starters, the copper-nickel sulfide deposits of northeast Minnesota are not in a narrow geologic band.  This highly disseminated, less than 1% mineralization is found within the Duluth Complex, which underlies what is now Superior National Forest, between lake Vermilion, the BWCAW, and Lake Superior.

    The taconite iron formation, which is an entirely different geological formation, lies in a band.  However, due to the low grade character of taconite (25-30% iron), the amount of waste rock and tailings means that this band isn’t quite as narrow as it appears on a map.  Consider that sulfide mining would result in 99% waste rock.

    Also note that the environmental groups are not advocating for the shutting down of the taconite industry–but rather for cleaning up the pollution that is a result of the mining, and requiring the taconite industry to meet state standards.

    I am sorry to say that the EPA graph does not address the mercury that is being released from taconite mining operations, as separate from the mercury being released from the coal fired energy that powers operations.  Because the taconite plant stacks are fairly low in height, the mercury emitted from those stacks tends to stay more local.  We cannot ignore this local source of mercury pollution, or claim that all of our mercury is blown into Wisconsin, which would make us a rather nasty neighbor indeed.  We also cannot ignore the amount of sulfates leaching from the taconite tailings.  There is also direct evidence that wild rice crops are being weakened or destroyed in waters downstream from taconite operations.  And there is direct evidence that our fish are contaminated with mercury.  The latest political tactics are to clain this has nothing to do with mining–denying the proof being displayed within our own environment.

    The amount of dollar figures claimed, including school aid, is meaningless when mining pollution is destroying the environment for future generations, while impacting the health of the current generation.  How does one compromise on loss of clean water, sustainability, and human brain cells?

    Until we can figure out how to clean up the mess being left behind by taconite mining, the state of Minnesota should not even consider the permitting of a copper-nickel sulfide mine, especially knowing that PolyMet’s own SDEIS stated (though hidden among 1200 pages) that pollution would require clean-up for 300-500 years.

    In the meantime, the state and the political structure should be supporting jobs that will engineer the clean-up of our air and water, the restoration of our ecosystems, and ways to maintain our society without being so dependent on low-grade metals, whose extraction requires tremendous amounts of electricity, fuel, and water. 

    Yes, let’s put an end to this range war, and focus on solving our pollution problems, rather than creating more.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *