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Local View: Urgency mounting to mine, unlock Minnesota's clean-energy minerals

From the column: "Minerals right here in Minnesota can help meet consumer demand and bring manufacturing and jobs back to America. ... Minerals like copper are critical to the clean-energy transition."

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Twin Metals would be an underground mine, perhaps similar to this one.
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Our country has set ambitious clean-energy goals, but those are not attainable without access to the materials needed to make renewable-energy projects come to fruition. Minnesota has an opportunity to play a leading role in the clean-energy future, but we must be willing to remove barriers to achieve it.

As field director of the Minnesota Land and Liberty Coalition, I have the honor of working with local citizens, farmers, landowners, and key stakeholders who are concerned about protecting their private property rights, developing their communities, and being good stewards of the land.

I had the opportunity to join a recent tour of Twin Metals in Ely with other community leaders. This first-hand look at the company’s operations underscored the importance of domestic mineral mining to America’s clean-energy future.

Minerals right here in Minnesota can help meet consumer demand and bring manufacturing and jobs back to America. These minerals include copper for wind power and broadband networks, nickel for electric cars and medical devices, and cobalt for smart phones and batteries.

Minerals like copper are critical to the clean-energy transition. According to the World Bank , about 550 megatons of copper have been produced in the last 5,000 years — but the world will need about the same amount of copper in the next 25 years to meet global demand.

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Initiatives like Twin Metals would help reduce our dependence on foreign minerals and could produce enough copper for 13,000 megawatts of wind energy annually. In its lifetime, this project can produce enough raw material for 7 million electric-vehicle batteries.

While recycling remains an important avenue for reusing minerals, the global demand for these metals exceeds what recycling can provide. The inability to access these crucial raw materials in Minnesota can limit American access to these metals, as well as create demand to mine them elsewhere where environmental and labor standards are lower.

If we want a clean-energy future, we need to mine here in Minnesota — and we need to start now. I look forward to working with local leaders on common-sense policy that enables us to move forward and create an independent and secure energy grid for America.

Alex Pouliot of St. Paul is field director for the Minnesota Land & Liberty Coalition (landandlibertycoalition.com), which was founded in 2018 to give local citizens a voice in their energy futures.

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Alex Pouliot

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