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

 Like the range wars once fought over water and grazing rights in the western U.S. in the 1800’s, Minnesotan environmentalists and mining supporters are waging a modern-day range war. The Minnesota Range WarEnvironmental and tribal organizations warn that expanded mining in northern Minnesota will harm wild rice and exacerbate mercury pollution in lakes and rivers. They point to evidence of dwindling wild rice and to DNR listings of dozens of endangered lakes where residents are advised not to eat the fish because of high levels of mercury contamination. Environmentalists suspect the state will not enforce strict environmental mining controls if Polymet Mining and Duluth Twin Metals mines are permitted to start operations in the Mesabi Range and fear that a wilderness area of the state will be ruined for future generations. On the other side of this battle are 70% of the residents in northern Minnesota, who support mining the world’s largest undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and gold located within the Mesabi Range as their future, if not their birthright. The Polymet proposal is to mine copper, nickel and precious metals for 20 years, although there are proven reserves to continue mining the Northmet project for another 20 years or longer. Continue Reading