Readers weigh in on copper-nickel miningWe all use the metals PolyMet would produce As someone who has worked in the mining industry for 52 years and who recognizes the value of all mining to our lifestyles in the 20th and 21st centuries, and having read the summary of the PolyMet Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, I would be hypocritical if I did not strongly support the approval and development of the PolyMet project.
We all use the metals PolyMet would produce
As someone who has worked in the mining industry for 52 years and who recognizes the value of all mining to our lifestyles in the 20th and 21st centuries, and having read the summary of the PolyMet Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, I would be hypocritical if I did not strongly support the approval and development of the PolyMet project.
Everything consumed in our modern society utilizes in some way the precious metals we have right here in Northeastern Minnesota. We can and will do it right while at the same time improving the economy of our region for many, many decades to come.
The next time you drive your car, turn your lights on in your house, watch television, make a call on your phone, gamble at a casino or even put on your clothes in the morning, the precious metals PolyMet intends to mine are needed to provide those conveniences we have come to take for granted.
Please think about this and give your support and approval of the PolyMet project.
PolyMet brings too many unknown risks to water
I’ve worked with surface and ground water for many years in my law practice. The migration of ground water is virtually impossible to know. You can spend millions trying to apply remediation and not succeed. We’ve learned from the spill in the Gulf and with asbestos in Silver Bay. No matter what we did, we couldn’t change what happened.
Several years ago the sewer line broke between Cloquet and Duluth. The ground underneath the surface in that area is all shale, so the migration of the pollutants was beyond belief. Ask the people in North Dakota what they now face, or others who’ve had water polluted because of mining or other activities.
See the News Tribune’s Nov. 3 article, “Lawsuits claim Love Canal still oozing 35 years later.” See also George Erickson’s Dec. 12 “In response” opinion piece, “Fracking brings environmental harm in more ways than one.” We risk a similar result with PolyMet’s mining proposal.
We destroyed a rare, naturally reproducing brook trout stream that ran by the Kohl’s area through continuing encroachment and pollution. The reality is that if you’re willing to have water polluted because of jobs be prepared to lose your water supply. It may take hundreds of years to remedy the contamination that’ll occur from the proposed mining of various minerals. Adverse effects may mean the loss of water for flora, fauna and humans in addition to its effect on the whole environment for hundreds of years to come. Unwise mining and land development may result in “selling our heritage for a mess of pottage.”
There are areas of concern that must be addressed. How will polluted water be effectively treated? Can the rehabilitation of water and the environment from pollutants be proven to be possible? And what is the cost? What is the guarantee of money designated necessary for rehabilitation? And who’ll determine the pollution, its amount, effects and cost in terms of losses suffered and remediation?
Daniel H. Mundt
Nolan understands need for responsible mining
Like our late Sen. Paul Wellstone, Congressman Rick Nolan supports urgently needed mining jobs on the Iron Range and the protection of our environment and our quality of life here in northern Minnesota.
Unfortunately, some don’t see it that way.
In a recent op-ed in the News Tribune (“Nolan flip-flopped on mining,” Dec. 27), Nolan was taken to task for his position on copper-nickel mining. The writer, Nathan Ness, called Nolan a liar. The congressman deserves more respect even from those who disagree with his position.
As a lifelong resident of the Iron Range, I support responsible mining projects like the one proposed by PolyMet, projects that will bolster our prosperity while protecting our environment. Nolan fully understands PolyMet’s reverse-osmosis water-treatment design because he spent many years selling similar systems. He also has invested extensive time meeting with agencies tasked with regulating this industry and evaluating the science. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is a trusted agency responsible for determining that the project will meet our state’s rigorous standards.
I’ve personally met with the congressman to express support for PolyMet, sharing with him my history working with Sen. Wellstone, a champion of both economic and environmental justice. As with the late senator, Nolan believes the economic opportunity represented by mining and environmental stewardship aren’t mutually exclusive.
What better way to stand up for environmental and economic justice than to create mining jobs in a state with some of the strictest environmental regulations in the world and labor laws designed to protect workers? Wellstone fully understood Iron Rangers are fighting for a way of life that balances our love for the environment with a desire to see families stay in this region because they have economic opportunity.
I commend Nolan for doing his homework and his support for responsible mining.
UMD study exposes tight ties to mining industry
Thanks to the News Tribune’s John Myers for covering the inadequacies of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s copper mining impact study. (“Green economists criticize copper mining impact study,” Jan. 1)
While mathematical and procedural errors in the study are obvious, less obvious is UMD’s incestuous relationship with the mining industry. The study was largely funded by mining proponents, and there long has been a revolving door between the state of Minnesota, our university system and the mining industry.
While Myers reported the possibility of bias by environmental economists, we should be more concerned by bias displayed in the economic report by James Skurla at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics and by members of UMD’s Department of Geological Sciences in other venues.
It’s time for UMD to hire an economist willing to discuss the “resource curse” and to hire a geologist more interested in geological science than in mining engineering.
Chamber backs policies based on science
In a Dec. 27 commentary in the News Tribune (“Nolan flip-flopped on mining”), Nathan Ness falsely accused the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce of attempting to weaken water-quality standards in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Chamber believes in strong environmental standards to protect our environment and natural resources. Equally important is the permitting process. We should have the nation’s best. That means standards that are scientifically based and peer-reviewed. The system should deliver permit decisions on time and at or under budget.
All of our work at the Minnesota Chamber with candidates and policymakers is aimed at developing this system: standards based on sound science and permitting decisions made on time and on budget. No excuses. For someone to suggest otherwise is simply not true.
The writer is director of environmental policy
at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Precious metals mining: A third option
PolyMet’s plan to mine precious metals in Minnesota has been the source of polarizing debate. These metals are used to create our modern electronics, and the consumer demand is heavy.
The pro-mining community can point to 20 years of jobs and economic benefits pumped into the local community during the life of the mine in an area long steeped in mining culture.
People against mining cite the long-term environmental degradation, health threats from toxins leached into the water and potential for taxpayers to pay for cleanup.
While these arguments rage, I think a third option has been largely overlooked. Rather than extracting metals from the Earth, what about recycling the metals we already have in abundance in our electronic devices?
There is a glut of old electronics that contain these metals that people own around the world. According to the Smithsonian Institute, 40 million tons of electronic waste is generated annually. As we constantly upgrade our gadgets, these old electronics often are left sitting in boxes, drawers and landfills. If we recycle these items as commonly as our aluminum cans and paper, we could have an enormous supply of precious metals.
Why not make northern Minnesota home to a world-class recycling plant that collects the precious metals from smart phones, iPads and all manner of hi-tech gadgets in order to reuse what we already have?
The supply is plentiful. We already have an international port for infrastructure, and such a recycling operation would create local jobs without driving up the demand for mining elsewhere. It wouldn’t leave our beautiful state’s environment shamefully marred. It wouldn’t leave generations of Minnesotans with toxic waterways. And the best part: These jobs would continue on in perpetuity, not just for 20-some years.
State must invest in taconite’s future
State Rep. Carly Melin seems to have aligned her thinking with destroying our future in the iron mining industry by implicating a tax on taconite profits (“Questions raised on taconite tax rebate,” Dec. 21).
Melin doesn’t seem to believe the Iron Range’s annual production of about 40 million tons of taconite, at $100 per ton, or about $4 billion, is good value. She questioned
$174 million in rebates over 20 years ($8.7 million a year) for taconite pellet plants, a nugget plant and Magnetation processing plants. According to at least one estimate, the pellet plants average $1.5 million in rebates per year. Steel Dynamics’ nugget process reportedly is losing money and is in a development stage in the rotary hearth-furnace production phase. This process needs money to reach a money-making stage.
Competition is forthcoming, including, reportedly, a
55-million-ton-capacity pellet plant in Australia and an
8-million-ton-capacity Gogebic pellet plant in Wisconsin. The additional tonnage on the world market certainly will drop prices as steel-processing plants bid on pellet contracts. The Mesabi Range pellet plants that are the weakest in production costs will suffer.
The DRI, or nugget rotary hearth process, first was developed in a pilot stage by Surface Combustion in the late 1950s. After 60-plus years this process is not fully developed for commercial production. Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board members and state and federal lawmakers must fully understand that this process must not fail. Whatever the requirements needed to fulfill a profitable phase — including support money for technology and revamping design and construction to implement a profitable process — must be met.
This is our future and our chance to solidify the Mesabi Range in the 21st century.
We lost one taconite pellet plant because the Mesabi Range, the IRRRB, and state and federal lawmakers weren’t focused on what was transpiring or did not believe the outcome.
Thomas J. Mesich