In light of the ongoing process to permit the Polymet to mine copper in Babbitt with a processing center in Hoyt Lakes, I am reposting my article first published in November, 2012:
A view of Northern Minnesota as the battle rages for copper, sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.
In the heart of the proposed copper mining, northern Minnesota
What is more precious to our survival than water?
Dedication in Chisholm to the Iron Miners
What harm could mining do? Is there a better way? Recycling perhaps?
Hull Rust iron mine in 2012
an “earth mover” at the Hibbing mine
A view from the steel lookout above the Hibbing mine November, 2012
Can the land and waters of these mines be reclaimed essentially?
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.
Will we trade the health of our water for a copper mine?
Hull Rust Mine, the “Grand Canyon” of Minnesota 2012
… near the Boundary Water Canoe Wilderness Area.
A view along Highway 1, already at risk
… a grove of birch along Highway 1 on the road to Ely, Mn where lumbering, taconite mining and the effects of acid rain can be seen …
What will be left once copper mining has begun in earnest?
I took this picture in the 1970’s of water in the mountains of Alberta. Since that time there have been changes but not to my memories. How many memories would fill a mountain stream in West Virginia that is now being destroyed by mountain top removal? How many memories do we, as a species, have of the waters that ran clear and cool before mining, drilling and fracking for fossil fuels?
I remember the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness before the fires, and before the drills from companies seeking copper, gold and other “precious” metals took its toll. I remember the stands of thousand year-old cedars in the west as I drove into Seattle to see waves crashing on the shore of the Washington coast … before the Fukushima disaster, before garbage islands and the Exxon oil spill … before so many bad decisions. The cedars along the highway have been lumbered. The oceans, and the species that depend on it’s health, are endangered … including mankind.
As I watch the destruction of trees, water, the air and the land … all to greed and short term profit, I wonder if man will learn before it’s too late, too late for our species and the species doomed by our shortsightedness. As the Minnesota “Department of Natural Resources'” approval of Polymet’s Final Environmental Impact Study for the NorthMet Project opened the way for the permitting process, we wait … wait to see what matters most. Water or money?
As Governor Dayton proposes funding for a study to determine Polymet’s finances at the present moment, I wonder how possible it would be to determine those finances into the distant future? Are there any reassurances possible that will predict this corporation’s ability or willingness to clean up the inevitable long term effects of copper mining pollution, into perpetuity? Shouldn’t we consider the already abundant information that promises otherwise?
Grateful that the Governor will be exploring other mines in other areas, I wonder, is there any other area quite like that proposed in St Louis County on the borders of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area? Pollution from mining ore has already done harm in this ecologically fragile area, at the heart and head of three great rivers, and Lake Superior, along Giants Ridge and the Laurentian Divide, in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota.
Will we learn from our own experience and say no to any further degradation of an area so rich in natural beauty and a most essential commodity, water?
You will find several articles linked below concerning this area and the proposed copper mine::