Mineral exploration is taking place throughout this most critical and legendary area of northeast Minnesota -- the headwaters of the Rainy River watershed and the headwaters of Lake Superior, separated by the Laurentian Divide. (Photo © Sue Weber and courtesy Save Our Sky Blue Waters)
[Editor's Note: Save Our Sky Blue Waters is asking those who care about Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to write to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and the U.S. Forest Service to request that mining lease renewals sought by Minnesota Twin Metals and a land swap proposed by Polymet for its proposed open-pit sulfide mine be denied. Both mining projects would be located on Superior National Forest public lands. A 30-day public input "listening session" for the Twin Metals leases is currently underway and runs through July 20, 2016. We are including, with permission, an excerpt from an article explaining the issue and a link to the article. Similar versions of the article have appeared in the Duluth Reader and in MINNPOST.]
By Elanne Palcich *
On June 13, 2016, the U.S. Forest Service announced a 30 day period for public input related to two proposed mining lease renewals, currently held by Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM). The Forest Service expressed a deep concern for the location of the leases within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and risks associated with potential copper-nickel sulfide mining. Potential impacts to water resources include changes in water quantity and quality, contamination from acid mine drainage and seepage of tailings water, tailings basin failures, and waste rock treatment locations. Based on these concerns, the Forest Service is considering withholding consent for lease renewal. (United States Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service website)
On the coattails of political momentum expressing concern over metallic sulfide mining, the Forest Service is now considering the denial of the TMM leases. However, the pollution threats of sulfide mining are just as true for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine as they are for Twin Metals. The only difference is that PolyMet, if permitted, will poison and degrade the Lake Superior watershed, with pollutants to seep into the Rainy River watershed (BWCAW) upon mine closure and thereafter....
Click here to read the rest of this article and see how you can submit public comments.
* Guest author Elanne Palcich, a retired elementary teacher, began following the proposed PolyMet sulfide mine starting in 2005, along with various environmental groups, working her way through thousands of pages of environmental review. "This project should never have been allowed to go forward and sulfide mining cannot be done in the environment of northeast Minnesota without polluting the waters, Palcich told Keweenaw Now. "The final EIS concedes that water treatment would be needed for a minimum of 500 years at the plant site." (Inset photo of Elanne Palcich courtesy Elanne Palcich)