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In Response: Pro-mining column missed actual minerals solutions

From the column: "Of course, what bit of pro-sulfide mining rhetoric would be complete without shamelessly evoking child labor?"

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Mike Keefe/Cagle Cartoons
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State Sen. Michelle Benson’s March 24 commentary in the News Tribune, which told us we need to allow copper-sulfide mining for “moral” reasons, was full of disinformation, recycled and false talking points, and conveniently forgotten facts. It should have shown Minnesotans exactly what kind of governor she would be.

While Sen. Benson seems willing to publicly sell out our state’s clean water, someone needs to set the record straight.

Sen. Benson used the victims in Ukraine as a political tool to say we must stop relying on Russia to mine nickel by allowing the potential pollution of copper-sulfide mines in Minnesota.

Sen. Benson incorrectly assert ed that the world must open copper-sulfide mines in Minnesota to counter the loss of Russian nickel. But o nly 7% of the world’s nickel comes from Russia , as the Washington Post reported in mid-March, and there are efforts underway to create batteries for electric vehicles that won’t need nickel or cobalt .

Metals recycling and innovation would provide far more metal than the rejected Twin Metals mine. Why isn’t she advocating for this?

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Sen. Benson strangely made the jump from Russia to China in her column, invoking another boogeyman to apparently score cheap political points while leaving out key facts. Antofagasta, the parent company of Twin Metals, sends its copper to China for smelting. How would giving a mining conglomerate that sends its materials to China a pass to mine in Minnesota remove China from the supply chain? It wouldn’t.

Of course, what bit of pro-sulfide mining rhetoric would be complete without shamelessly evoking child labor? This set aside that Glencore, owner of the proposed PolyMet mine, owns mines said in lawsuits to be using child labor. If these copper-sulfide mining backers really care about stopping child labor, they should support the Bad Actor Bill now being considered by the Minnesota Legislature. This legislation would prevent companies with histories of international human rights violations or environmental degradation, like Glencore and Antofagasta, from operating nonferrous mines in Minnesota.

People telling us we have a “moral obligation” to mine copper in Minnesota to stop child labor globally, while also lobbying against the Bad Actor Bill, which would actually incentivize conglomerates to change bad business practices, should no longer be considered reasonable sources in the copper-sulfide mining debate.

There is legislation to punish nonferrous mining companies for labor abuses.

Better recycling infrastructure would increase the amount of copper and nickel in our supply chains far more than any mine in Minnesota.

And yet, Sen. Benson supports none of these actual solutions.

A wise person once said that when someone shows you who they are, believe them. Sen. Benson has repeatedly shown herself to be someone willing to spread disinformation and divide Minnesotans. It is time Minnesotans believe her.

Scott Beauchamp of St. Paul is the advocacy director for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Action Network, the 501c4 affiliate of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness (friends-bwca.org).

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Scott Beauchamp

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