Reader's view: Copper mining is political
The Local View column by Brian Hanson and Craig Olson on Oct. 8, headlined, "Copper-nickel mining isn't political issue," supported copper-nickel mining in Northeastern Minnesota but omitted some points of fact.
The Local View column by Brian Hanson and Craig Olson on Oct. 8, headlined, “Copper-nickel mining isn’t political issue,” supported copper-nickel mining in Northeastern Minnesota but omitted some points of fact.
On Aug. 4 in British Columbia, the Mount Polley copper and gold mine burst its tailings dikes, and damage is still being assessed. This was a best-practices mine that apparently did not do what regulators told it to do. The mine was told to stop filling the tailings pond because it was too full, but Imperial Metals continued to do so, according to reports. Now, 300 people are out of work and a massive cleanup has to be done. The spillage threatens one of the world’s best sockeye salmon fisheries, the Fraser River.
These minerals that’ll be mined in Northeastern Minnesota that every American depends on will be used to some extent in the U.S., but much of it more likely will go to China. Our own copper needs often are met by recycling what metal already has been made. According to the Bureau of International Recycling, 40 percent of world copper needs are met by recycling. For this reason of demand, copper is the first thing to get ripped from abandoned vacant houses and resold.
China is the largest consumer and producer of finished copper metal. Our third-largest export to China now is copper scrap. While Chile is the largest extractor of copper ore in the world, we sent China $3.5 billion worth of refined copper in 2013 out of a total of $9.2 billion to the entire world, according to the United States International Trade Commission. Doing business with China, a hard-core communist country, does make this a political situation, whether Hanson or Olson would admit it or not.
Mark S. Roalson