5 Compelling Reasons for Copper-Nickel Mining in Minnesota

Copper-nickel mining in Minnesota is an issue often met with intense debate. Is copper-nickel mining right for Minnesota? Can it be done safely? Will our watersheds be safe? Will the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness be impacted?

These are valid questions, and it is important that they are asked (and answered) publicly. The copper-nickel mining industry doesn’t seek to hide in the shadows but rather to provide the public with answers to all these questions and concerns and more within the process of opening a mine.

There are five important reasons that the current copper-nickel mining project proposed by PolyMet is a smart choice for Minnesota.

1. Human Safety

There is no safer place to operate a copper-nickel mine than right here in the United States of America, where protecting human health is a top priority. Before a mine can open, mining operations in the U.S. undergo very rigorous human health risk assessments to be sure any potential risks are mitigated. This protects workers and citizens alike and pays close attention to high-risk groups, like kids or the elderly.

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) sets health and safety standards to protect workers with exposure limits to air pollutants and water quality issues – and mining operations are required to maintain ongoing compliance for the duration of operations. Regulators aren’t going to simply hand over the keys and say “See you when you’re done!” after permits are issued.

2. Environmental Safety

The U.S. mining industry is highly regulated – and for good reason. Exhaustive environmental review processes ensure that a mine can operate within all federal, state, and local regulations before any mining activity commences. That means tailings basins will be stable. Water quality will meet or exceed federal standards. Effective long-term water treatment plans are in place. Culturally significant lands and wetlands will always be protected. Recreational opportunities won’t be impeded by a mine.

We understand that the American people are very protective of their land. The people who will operate copper-nickel mining facilities are Americans too. They also care that northern Minnesota stays the incredible, beautiful place it is today.

3. Local Jobs

The Iron Range was founded on mining. Iron ore built the region, state, and nation. Without the mining industry, cities like Ely, Virginia, Hibbing, Biwabik, and more wouldn’t exist as we know them today. The landscape of the Twin Ports would be vastly different. We’re proud of our history in mining and the jobs it created.

Today, we believe we are ready for the next generation of mining. Copper-nickel mining at PolyMet’s NorthMet project site is the smart next step for Minnesota. This project will provide more than 5,100 people with good-paying jobs and contribute over $419 million in annual earning in our state. That’s not money we can shy away from. Our friends and neighbors are counting on the jobs this mine will create. Jobs at the NorthMet mine will make it possible for many Minnesotans to support their families. We need mining jobs in order for the Iron Range to survive.

4. Economic Stability

This is a “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” type of thing. A diverse economy is a strong economy. A complex mix of thriving industries like manufacturing, shipping, finance, legal, healthcare, real estate, retail, tourism, and more all contribute to a stable economy. That means more job opportunities, more income, and more stability for everyday citizens.

The mining industry has long been a contributor to northern Minnesota’s economy. Studies have shown that while the tourism industry helps make an area an attractive place to build a home, the mining industry makes it possible for workers to afford a comfortable lifestyle. It all plays together.

5. Global Demand

We know the current state of renewable energy infrastructure is not strong enough to support increased demand. As we move toward a more sustainable future, we must invest in infrastructure. We can’t have wind energy without both on and offshore wind turbine infrastructure. We can’t harness energy from the sun without adequate solar panel technology. And when we need to store the green energy we create, we’re going to need more batteries. Infrastructure for these renewable energy resources requires large amounts of copper and other metals found on the Iron Range.

To achieve a more sustainable future through the smart use of our natural resources, we cannot afford to ignore the very metals we need to build the appropriate infrastructure. That means we must open PolyMet’s copper-nickel mine, and where better than right here? We have the metals. We have the workforce. We have the infrastructure. We have the care and respect for our environment and workforce. Let’s put it to work for all of us.

If Not in My Back Yard, Where?

Recently, environmental activists have been vocal about their opposition to a proposed open-pit copper mine from a Canadian-based company. Many of their arguments focus on concerns that it could harm air and water quality, and that this type of mining just shouldn’t be risked in a vital environment, watershed, and state – like Arizona.

Arizona? Yep. Arizona. Read the US News article.

We wouldn’t blame you if you thought that first paragraph was about Minnesota. After all, opponents of PolyMet have used these same talking points for years. They continue to use fear and doomsday scenarios even when regulatory agencies have stated the project will meet all environmental standards. Statements made at recent public hearings on mining included comments about how Minnesota’s water rich environment isn’t the right place for copper mining when there are mineral deposits in arid climates. Like in Arizona…

So opponents of mining in Minnesota say “Not in my back yard!” Opponents of mining in Arizona are also saying “Not in my back yard!” And there lies the paradox: if all watersheds and environments matter, as they do, then where should we be mining if copper-mining opponents think the risks outweigh the benefits everywhere?

Not in anyone’s back yard? Not possible when global demand for copper is already projected to outpace supply by 2019, continuing through 2030?

In third world countries where wages are poor and environmental standards are nonexistent? It’s time for us to step up and realize that if we want to continue enjoying life’s modern conveniences and care about global environment, not just our own, then it’s time to say we can mine copper better in our back yard here in Minnesota.


Driving Our Economy Together | Mining + Tourism

It’s like the Capulets and Montagues. Hatfields and McCoys. Vikings fans and Packers fans. Mining and tourism are often pitted as rivals in northern Minnesota, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

Both the mining and tourism industries are critical to Minnesota’s economy and way of life, especially up north. And while they’re both important, they play vastly different roles. You can have one without the other, but our state is stronger when both sectors thrive. The strength of our economy is more important than a rivalry between industries.

A few months ago at the SME (Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration) Conference, Mining Minnesota shared results of an economic impact study conducted by Praxis Study Group (PSG) in 2016. The study took a close look at the impact of both the tourism and mining industries on the Duluth-Arrowhead region and the results were compelling. It showed that together, these two industries contribute to a diverse, strong economy.

It’s no secret that many choose to live and visit the Duluth-Arrowhead region because of the outdoor opportunities. It’s paradise on earth. People love the scenery. The fresh air. Our big, beautiful lake. They love to get outside and enjoy hiking the trails, mountain biking, road biking, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, exploring the Boundary Waters and so much more. Locals even make the most of winter by way of cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sports, ice fishing, etc. The lists go on and on – a little ice and snow doesn’t stop this crowd. And these activities are enjoyable because of the region’s dedication to protecting our environment. They’re also enjoyable when enthusiasts can afford to participate. Some of those hobbies are expensive to maintain.

That means regional workers need high paying jobs. And some of the region’s highest paying jobs come from the mining industry. The PSG study showed the mining industry employs over 5,000 workers and the average salary is $80,000 per year. In addition, the mining industry supports thousands of jobs in other important sectors in our region. Without mining, northern Minnesota would be without many jobs in healthcare, retail, government, construction and tourism, among others. The tourism industry, however, employs over 6,000 people, but those jobs are often part-time or seasonal – and the average salary is only about $18,000 per year.

Mining creates high-quality jobs and the tourism economy and outdoor opportunities improve enjoyment of our region for both residents and visitors. Without a doubt, the tourism industry contributes to our region’s unique identity. It is a key part of local quality of life and makes the Duluth-Arrowhead region a place where people – including mining workers – want to build their homes and families. People come here for a reason. Let’s keep them here with good paying jobs.

Together, mining and tourism create our region’s character. We work hard and we play hard. We take every opportunity we can to get outside and enjoy the fun, excitement and challenge our land offers. We also have mining rooted deep in our history. It’s oftentimes in our blood as many of our fathers or grandfathers proudly worked in iron ore mines – and we’ll continue the tradition today in a responsible, ethical and environmentally conscious manner. Because it is better in our backyard #betterinourbackyard.

First public information meetings coming up for draft environmental review of proposed Line 3 pipeline project

Meetings offer opportunity for Minnesotans to learn about and comment on draft environmental impact statement

SAINT PAUL –The first public meetings on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 pipeline project will be held during the week of June 5.

Under the authority of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and its decisionmaking process, the State of Minnesota issued the draft EIS on May 15 for a public review and comment period that extends through July 10 and includes 22 public meetings in the counties through which the proposed pipeline or an alternative route is under consideration.

Meetings will be held in Bagley and Grand Rapids on Tuesday, June 6; Park Rapids and Cass Lake on Wednesday, June 7; Floodwood and Brainerd on Thursday, June 8; and Wadena on Friday, June 9.

The draft EIS and full schedule of public meetings are available at: mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities/line3

To read the rest of this news release, visit: https://mn.gov/commerce/media/news/?id=297685

Why We Mine

You may know that we mine in Minnesota, but do you know why?

Minnesota’s iron mines account for 80% of “first pour” steel in the United States.1

“First pour” is used to describe steel the first time it’s been made. This is an important denotation to make, because believe it or not, steel is the most recycled material in the world.2

More steel is recycled each year than aluminum, paper, glass, and plastic combined, and the recycling rate for steel is 86%. This recycling rate is a source of pride for America’s iron and steel industry, as the high recycling rate saves enough energy to power 20 million homes for one year.3

Steel can be continually recycled with no degradation. While this is an amazing property of the metal, it also means many steel products remain in service for decades at a time, though the demand for steel around the world continues to grow. For this reason, even while two out of every three tons of new steel are produced from old steel, it is still necessary to mine iron ore for “first pour” steel.4

Recycled and “first pour” steel alike are used to make the vehicles you drive, appliances you use, and infrastructure you see every day – not to mention machines used on a larger scale for agriculture, construction, and defense nationwide and abroad. Take a moment to think about all the products you use every day that wouldn’t be available without the materials we must recycle and mine. Makes you think – doesn’t it?

1 http://minnesotairon.org/10-things-you-use-every-day-made-from-minnesota-iron/
2 http://www.steel.org/about-aisi/industry-profile.aspx
3 http://www.steel.org/about-aisi/industry-profile.aspx
4 http://www.steel.org/sustainability/steel-recycling.aspx

Think Global, Mine Local

In the past several years, the locavore movement has gained momentum throughout the U.S. The locavore movement emphasizes the importance of eating food that was raised and processed within your local area, recognizing the contribution of your neighborhood farmers and the minimized impact on the environment. By consuming local food, you have the opportunity to visit the farm, see how animals are raised and have insight into the management of the environmental impacts. With local food, you can support your neighbors, build relationships and support ethical operations that align with your values.

If local is the direction we’re going for our food sources, why should the metals and minerals we consume in our daily lives be any different?

We aren’t isolated from the decisions we make in our consumption habits. When we choose to receive our material goods from other areas of the world, the environmental impacts still affect us here at home. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) mercury TMDL (total maximum daily load) study of 2007, 90% of the mercury entering Minnesota’s water is from out-of-state sources, including China and India. Mercury in its elemental form can travel through the atmosphere for years, making its way to Minnesota where the biological conditions in our abundant wetlands convert that mercury into a form that travels up through the food chain to us.

Americans are the largest consumers of metals and minerals in the entire world and we are responsible for 18% of the energy consumption worldwide, with only 5% of the world’s population. As these impactful consumers, we bear an ethical responsibility in the lifecycle of these material goods, from the initial extraction to the ultimate disposal. We need to ask ourselves WHERE are these goods coming from, HOW were they extracted from the Earth, WHO did the extraction, and HOW were these workers treated?

While we should all strive to minimize our consumption of goods, particularly given that metals and minerals are finite resources, there will always be a demand to meet and we have to ask ourselves how we intend to meet that demand now and in the future. How do we intend to develop the resources necessary to support the next generation of energy and technology? If the next generation of windmills requires 3000 kg of copper per megawatt of energy and the average electric car requires 20 kg of cobalt, we must reach further back in the lifecycle to ensure that these green technologies are being built with minerals and metals that were mined responsibly, both socially and environmentally.

Minnesotans are poised to be the world leaders for ethically, sustainably-mined metals and minerals to support the green revolution. We are the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We are the Land of 130+ years of iron ore mining with remaining pit lakes that are so clean that they are now used by several communities for drinking water sources. We are the Land of the original Labor movement.

Local isn’t just good for our food sources, it’s good for all of our consumption habits.

Do it right. Do it ethically. Do it in Minnesota.


USGS – https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2011/5036/sir2011-5036.pdf






New Report Reveals Critical Importance of Mining to the Economy

When it comes to quality of life for all residents of the Duluth-Arrowhead region, high-paying jobs are key. Over the past 15 years, the region’s economy has remained stagnant, lagging in per capita income and gross domestic product per job. Improving the economic future of the region is of the utmost importance to our communities.

A recent economic impact study explores the roles of mining and tourism, two of the region’s key industries that are sometimes, unfortunately, pitted against each other. The study indicates that while tourism plays an important role, it cannot sustain the Duluth-Arrowhead region’s economy on its own. The study was the subject of several news stories. Mining and tourism, together, drive the best possible future for our communities.

Find more about this study at: www.miningjobscount.com