Please tell me what environmental protections, laws, and practices have been decimated by the PolyMet and Twin Metals copper-nickel mining activity. That charge was made in the Jan. 20 letter, "We're being duped by copper-mining interests." It is pretty easy to throw that out there and then not back it up with any proof.
PolyMet has gone through the most exhaustive environmental-review and permitting processes in the history of Minnesota. The company has been subjected to more than 14 years of studies, public-comment periods, and Environmental Impact Statements. Every aspect of its proposed copper-nickel mine has been looked at under a microscope.
And yet a letter can be published suggesting the company somehow bypassed environmental practices.
Twin Metals will get its mineral leases renewed because the company has met all the requirements listed in the current leases to retain them. When Twin Metals presents its mine plan, it too will be subjected to the same exhaustive and costly process that PolyMet has experienced. There will be no bypassing or lessening of any environmental laws or practices. Environmental groups and state and federal agencies will make sure of that - just like they did with PolyMet.
Copper-nickel mining is the new era of mining in Northeastern Minnesota. It will bring good-paying mining jobs to an area so desperately in need of them. Tourism jobs are low-paying and generally seasonal. You cannot hope to raise a family with that kind of job. Let's try a little comparison. Tourism and leisure-industry jobs pay, on an average, $27,000 a year with few to no benefits. Meanwhile, a direct mining job, like the ones PolyMet and Twin Metals will provide, will pay $82,000 a year with excellent benefits. Plus, there'll be support-services jobs that will pay around $68,000 a year.
These are not crumbs we are fighting for. These jobs will support our communities, schools, hospitals, and families for generations.
The letter was right about one thing: Iron-ore mining, tourism, and logging did once support the area. But tourism is on the decline. Iron-ore mining is making a resurgence because of President Donald Trump's tariffs. And logging also is declining.
We need copper-nickel mining to balance everything out like it once was.
Michael A. Cole of Soudan is CEO of Minnesota Miners (@MinnesotaMiners).