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RememberSchiff

Sulfide-Ore Copper Mining Boundary Waters Wildnerness Area

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Just before Christmas, the Department of the Interior reversed an Obama administration decision and opened the door for a copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the northeast Arrowhead region of Minnesota.

...

Northeastern Minnesota is known as the Iron Range and taconite mining is deeply tied to its history. But Twin Metals, the Minneapolis-based company that holds the leases, is planning an underground copper-nickel mine, which has never been tried in the state. Opponents argue that this type of mine is much more toxic and risky than the traditional taconite mines of the Northstar State’s past.

The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters states on its website: “It produces giant waste piles that, when exposed to air and water, leach sulfuric acid, heavy metals and sulfates. Sulfide-ore copper mines pollute groundwater, rivers and lakes. In the history of sulfide mining, pollution has never been avoided.” (I recommend viewing Campaign to Save website . Online petition and environmental science material - RS)

However, Twin Metals points to the Eagle Mine, which has been operational since 2014, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as the only mine currently producing nickel in the U.S. You can read about that project here.

The Twin Metals mining leases are located along the southwest border of the Boundary Waters. The location is critical because the site is north of the Laurentian Divide, meaning that rivers and streams in this watershed flow north. Pollution could have a massive impact on the entire ecosystem, not just the lakes and rivers near the mine.

Sources:

https://www.outdoorlife.com/what-sportsmen-need-to-know-about-boundary-waters-mine#page-2

4 page science facts handout on impact of Sulfide-Ore Copper mining on Boundary Waters Wilderness Area

https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/sites/default/files/public/attachments/stbw_science_fact_sheet.pdf

Petition

https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/tell-department-interior-and-bureau-land-management-protect-boundary-waters

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Signed.  There are some decisions and changes that can have lasting damage and cannot easily been undone.   BWCA is one of the few purely wild areas we have left in the Great Lakes.   

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We need to mine for the metals and other natural resources that our modern society depends on. Every location has its problems, but we have to mine somewhere.  The environmentalists are not just opposed to this location. They are opposed to every location.

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I am not sure of the "we" here. I do not believe it is a US company mining the ore.

We, all of us, need water too obviously. Mine drainage will be a given and continuous. In drier areas that threat is less but treatment of contaminated water has not been effective.

https://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/copper_sulfide_mining

Edited by RememberSchiff

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I don’t believe the copper market is at a shortage crisis to the point that we should risk the BWCA.  Damage to waterways is long lasting and extremely difficult to repair.  

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Walter Mondale commentary in Minnesota StarTribune back in August, 2017.

We can't afford to get the mining-vs.-land-protection equation wrong

But as Minnesotans well know, the value of the Boundary Waters extends far beyond mere economics. A recent scouting magazine article about our secretary of state begins with this sentence: “You could say Rex Tillerson’s path to the corner office began on a portage trail in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Ontario.” The Boy Scouts of America has sent hundreds of thousands of kids into the Boundary Waters since 1923. It is in good company. The Girl Scouts, YMCA camps, Voyageurs Outward Bound School, Wilderness Inquiry, church and community groups, and many other organizations — as well as countless families — have given kids unforgettable outdoor adventures and imparted life-enriching lessons by taking them on Boundary Waters canoe trips.

 

http://www.startribune.com/walter-mondale-we-can-t-afford-to-get-the-mining-vs-land-protection-equation-wrong/441453433/

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I think every person and organization who opposes a mining and drilling site should required to propose an alternate site. We have to mine and drill somewhere.

NIMBY (not in my back yard) is not a reasonable attitude. 

 

Edited by David CO

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Expand the Morenci mine in Arizona. 

I also have problems with environmentalists who seem to believe food, products and electricity can just magically appear.  There are definitely trade offs that must be made and risk/benefit analysis should be considered.   

That said, I believe protecting water is especially critical as no mine or drill site can be 100% clean or operate without error.  My grandma had an oil well on her land in southern Illinois.   There were spills (relatively small).  The good news is that it wasn’t near a water way so to clean them up you dig out the containment and haul it to a landfill.

My wife has worked for a power company to remediate oil gasification sites.  Again, clean up is expensive but simple.  Dig, dig, dig up that muck and replace with clean soil.

100% on board with the comment that we have to allow drilling and mining ... but we should also have limits where the risk is simply too great.

I have fished multiple waterways (Milwaukee river, Illinois river, etc) that suffered from industrial pollution.  It has taken a generation for them to start to recover from one generation’s mistake.    I would not want to see that mistake  repeated.

 

 

Edited by Eagle1993
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7 hours ago, David CO said:

NIMBY (not in my back yard) is not a reasonable attitude. 

I generally agree with that, but I don't think NIMBYism is the issue with this particular site.  This is an area that has a special need for protection.

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