We with Twin Metals Minnesota disagreed with the May 24 commentary in the News Tribune calling for a ban on mining in the Rainy River watershed (Local View: "Protect Boundary Waters' economic, environmental advantages").
The column cited others' opinions about the risks of mining to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and, like those others have, engaged in speculation about Twin Metals' proposed underground copper-nickel mine.
The fact that many assume there will be acid runoff from mine tailings doesn't make it so. In fact, extensive testing shows that the tailings produced through the mining process will be non-acid-generating.
In addition, underground mining creates opportunities to target the ore, minimize surface impacts, and eliminate waste rock.
Until Twin Metals submits an actual, tangible mine proposal, opinions about the project's impact are premature and speculative. Once the proposal is submitted to state and federal agencies, it will be subjected to in-depth environmental, social, and economic review under state and federal regulations, i.e. the National Environmental Policy Act. That process will be open to the public for everyone to participate in, and we highly encourage public involvement.
We hope Minnesotans and advocates everywhere will remain open-minded and engaged, especially given the growing and critical need for copper, nickel, and palladium in "green technology."
The World Bank recently projected that, thanks in large part to energy technology requirements, the world will need about the same amount of copper over the next 25 years as has been mined over the last 5,000 years. For example, there are nearly 5 tons of copper in a single wind turbine. Nickel is a key element in energy storage and palladium in cars' catalytic converters, which reduce harmful emissions.
Companies around the world are looking for ways to secure minerals that have been responsibly and sustainably sourced in secure countries with defined regulatory processes in place in order to make the necessary investments to bring those projects to reality.
Twin Metals Minnesota is committed to operating a sustainable, environmentally safe mine. We look forward to demonstrating that commitment during the regulatory review process - rather than being preempted by speculative opinions.
Dean DeBeltz of Ely is director of operations and safety for Twin Metals Minnesota.