What would be a particularly bad place for a highly toxic copper sulfide mine?

If we were to search the entire globe for a place that would result in more devastation to the natural world and to world class water systems, we might be hard pressed to find a more damaging prospect than the Arrowhead of Minnesota.  This region is located:

  1. At a recharge area in a diverse and complex geological formation where toxins from a mine could discharge at unknown places anywhere from a mile to 100 miles from the source in any direction.
  2.  In an aquifer that feeds one of three of the greatest river systems on the North American continent at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway.
  3.  On the doorstep of the world’s most pristine wildernesses, the combined lands and waters of the BWCA and Quetico in the heart of the Rainy River Watershed.
  4. In a community where tourism depends on wilderness.
  5. Upstream from communities that depend upon wild rice, game and recreation, which are all dependent upon clean water, air and an ecosystem without precedent.
  6.  In one of the richest and most ecologically diverse areas in the world.
  7.  At the heart of the Arrowhead in Minnesota’s Great Lakes and Mississippi River flyways where thousands of migrating birds depend annually on the area’s wilderness waters and lands.

In spite of these attributes and many others, this is exactly where the DNR proposes to permit a copper sulfide mine, a mine, which will leave pollution for a minimum of 500 years and may reach the dimensions of the Hull Rust Mine in Hibbing if precedent follows.

Could dimensions of copper-sulfide mining reach the proportions of the Hull Rust Mine in Hibbing Minnesota? Babbitt, a doorway to the BWCA at Birch Lake and the location of the proposed NorthMet copper mine, is located in the Laurentian Uplands, a recharge area for three of the greatest river systems in North America.

The guarantees are many:

  • We need water to survive in its natural state for maximum health .
  • The NorthMet Project and copper mining will pollute the water and land.
  • Filters used in the mining process will change the water’s composition and these filters will also need disposal.
  • Tailings will be stored in an aging earthen “containment” pond, which leaks and leaches and will continue to do so.
  • Waste piles will leach and leak, as well, into the unforeseeable future.
  • Release of toxins into the environment is inevitable through natural processes and accidents.
  • Waste piles and ponds are subject to natural disasters, which cannot be planned for and which have not been fully accounted for in the permitting process.
  • Wetlands will be destroyed through mining processes directly and indirectly.
  • Habitat for wildlife will be degraded.
  • Transportation corridors will spread the toxic effects beyond the mine’s footprint.
  • As water seeks its level, pits will fill with water continuously as long as the pits are in use, thereby mining water as well as rock.
  • Since mining will occur in the Laurentian Highlands, a recharge area for three major watersheds on the North American continent, the risk of water pollution, the risk of damage to artesian wells (contained aquifers) through depressurization, and the risk to more than one watershed is possible.
  • Because the area has multiple substrata at complex, varying depths with bedrock fractures and diverse materials, unknown factors will ultimately determine pathways for copper sulfide mining pollution and these could appear in unexpected places.

  • Damage to these waters will reach in and out of state, and in and out of this country.
  •  The profits will move out of state and out of this country.
  • The jobs will last a relatively short time compared to the 500 years of pollution left behind.
  • As the wilderness goes, so will the wilderness tourism.
  • The responsibility for clean-up will most likely remain in Minnesota as a burden to the taxpayer when the mine is closed and the company dissolved.  Since no corporation can guarantee solvency for 500 years or stay in business for long on charity, what other outcome could be expected?
  • In spite of any guarantees to the contrary, no amount of money will return this unique wilderness to the citizens of Minnesota.
  • The meaning of North Country will be changed forever.

For all of these reasons and more, I object to the NorthMet Project and a copper mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota.

 

The comment portal is open on Polymet’s permit to mine application until March 6, 2018 at:

https://survey.mn.gov/s.asp?k=151336679796

Text links to the draft permit and outlines as well as information on how to make comments and submissions are located at:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/polymet/permitting/ptm.html

 Please make your comments or objections by March 6, 2018.

For the sake of our wilderness and our water.  Anita

 

 

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