Reader's view: Sulfide mining isn’t safe, and never has been
The people of Minnesota need to understand one thing before the proposed copper-nickel mines are approved and begin operation: Sulfide mining cannot be done without devastating environmental damage in a water-rich area. Every sulfide mining operation in such an environment has resulted in horrific damage to the ecosystems in which they were located. No exceptions. Given that record, there can be absolutely no expectation that copper-nickel mining in Northeastern Minnesota would have a different result.
The recent Mount Polley Mine wastewater and tailings dam breach in British Columbia is yet another example of “responsible” sulfide mining run amok. Since the pro-mining News Tribune pretty much buried what should have been a front-page story about the breach and failed to publish any follow up, you’ll need to go to YouTube and search for Mount Polley Mine tailings breach to witness what is only the beginning of the incredible devastation. If the PolyMet and Twin Metals projects are allowed to go forward, this desolation or something equally ugly is likely to occur in or near our St. Louis River, Lake Superior or Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness watersheds.
Both Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters are irreplaceable gems that produce sustainable jobs and a sense of wonder that is unique to our part of the world. It seems unthinkable we would risk these incredible resources by betting on the losing odds of safe copper-nickel mining for the sake of a few hundred 20-year jobs.
Of course the mining companies say they’ll get it right this time. They always say that, but they’ve never delivered.
Einstein is said to have defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Let’s not let insanity and wishful, short-term thinking rule our better judgment about copper-nickel mining.