The media in Minnesota have been reporting on the proposed copper-nickel mining projects in the Quetico Superior region recently.
Minnesota Public Radio aired THIS report last Friday, focusing on some of the environmental concerns about the projects.
The Timberjay newspaper ran THIS story last week, reporting on a meeting in Embarrass meant to update the public on the status of the PolyMet project, the furthest-advanced mining project in the area.
According to the reports, environmentalists continue to be concerned about whether the sulfides in the waste rock will leach into surface water. The MPR story notes new fears about mercury stored in St. Louis River sediment binding to sulfates from the mines flowing in the river and creating a more toxic form of the chemical.
Proponents of the projects note that the PolyMet mine expects to employ 400 employees, create 500 spin-off jobs, and, during construction, demand the equivalent of 250 workers year-round for three years. The PolyMet mine is expected to produce 36,000 tons of copper, 7,700 tons of nickel, 360 tons of cobalt and 106,000 ounces of platinum, palladium and gold each year of its expected 20-year operation.
In other mining-related news … The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness announced last week that it discovered that some of the Natonal Forest lands sought by PolyMet were once classified as “special habitat worthy of protection” in assessments made by the U.S. Forest Service and the Minnesota DNR.
Friends spokeman Greg Seitz told Wilderness News Online, “The prospect of permanently destroying an area of high ecological value for the short term benefit of new mining is an unbalanced trade-off. This area, which is primarily made up of low-land conifer forest of tamarack, black spruce and jack pine, is also home to numerous rare plant species, as well as the northern goshawk, and probably home to species like wolves and Canada lynx.”
While the Superior National Forest plan adopted in 2004 calls for re-establishing diverse mixes of trees locally and forest-wide that are representative of native vegetation, the plan did not put special restriction on the land sought by PolyMet.
You can read the Friends’ statement on the matter HERE.