The News Tribune’s March 31 editorial called for a “fair” review of mining (Our View: “Scrap general study for fair, thorough review of underground mining plan”). The newspaper once again tried to justify copper-nickel mining next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with arguments that included, “The metals the company will mine are critically needed in our modern world” and, “These metals now are extracted in often unsafe, unregulated ways elsewhere around the globe.”
If mining with a lack of rules is the cheapest way to mine, what will prompt companies like Antofagasta (which owns Twin Metals) and Glencore (which owns PolyMet) to discontinue this heritage of cheap, environmentally hazardous mining in Africa, Asia, or South America, just because Minnesota approves an application to mine here?
Yes, 700 jobs at good salaries looks attractive. But what percentage is that of all the jobs of all the people who live in the watersheds of the Boundary Waters and the St. Louis River?
If the owners of Twin Metals are sincere, let them prove they can mine copper-nickel without water pollution by doing so at one of their existing mines for a period of at least 10 years. Then they would have some credible data and not just estimates and studies. Patience is a particularly important virtue in the face of potentially unrepairable environmental damage.