Retired University of Montana economics professor and researcher Tom Power was in northern Minnesota this week to speak about the risks of mining-dependent economies. He gave presentations in Duluth and Ely sponsored by environmental organizations.
Power’s research has found that mining does not typically lead to the prosperity promised by its proponents. This is largely due to the extreme volatility of metal markets. In recent decades, it has also been a result of increased technical innovation which means fewer workers needed to extract the same amount of ore.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, Power’s interest in the topic is rooted in the dichotomy of mining regions, where vast wealth is extracted but unemployment and poverty are high. “If someone said ‘name me a prosperous mining town,’ you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a name,” he stated.
In an editorial resulting from a conversation with Power while he was in Duluth, the News-Tribune editorial board states that the economics expert’s lessons are a reminder to consider new mine proposals “with eyes wide open.”