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Reader's View: Mining near Boundary Waters too risky

“There has never been a copper/sulfide mine that hasn’t leached."

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It wasn’t that long ago that Minnesota Republican state legislators were threatening to shut down the state’s environmental agencies, including state parks, unless Gov. Tim Walz backed down from adopting new “clean car” rules.

Fast forward to 2022, and we have Republican state and national politicians — like U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber — saying that mining “critical minerals” in the watershed that’s also home to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is necessary “as our nation makes the transition toward clean-energy technologies and electric vehicles,” as Stauber and a fellow congressman wrote in a February commentary in the News Tribune (Congressmen's View: “ Stopping responsible mining in Minnesota leaves US more reliant on China ”).

In another News Tribune Opinion piece (State Senator’s View: “ Minnesota has moral obligation to responsibly mine minerals ,” May 24), Republican Sen. Michelle Benson said that mining in places like the BWCAW watershed is the “only way we become energy and mineral independent from countries like … China and procure our state’s future.”

Antofagasta, the Chilean parent company of Twin Metals, wants to build a sulfide-ore copper mine in the BWCAW watershed. However, Antofagasta sends its copper ore to China for smelting. How would giving a foreign mining conglomerate that sends its ore to China a pass to mine in Minnesota remove China from the supply chain? The U.S. could be left to buy back our own precious metals from China.

Then there’s the issue of clean water. “There has never been a copper/sulfide mine that hasn’t leached. Never,” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney said in the Winter 2020 Backcountry Journal. “Right now, the future of the Boundary Waters hangs in the balance. … There shall be no mine here … not ever … not on BHA’s watch.”

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David A. Lien

Colorado Springs, Colorado

The writer, formerly of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is an author and the founder and former chairman of Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (backcountryhunters.org). For more on this topic, he suggests sportsmenbwca.org.

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