Opinion: Letter Writer Responds to Column
Hibbing Daily Tribune
Response to column by Aaron Brown "No hope on the Range, but for the hope we create" published on Sept. 15.
I sincerely believe that much of what Mr. Brown wrote concerning the future of mining, especially for non ferrous metals, is not supported by facts, is based primarily on false information and could negatively influence many concerning non-ferrous mining.
His assumption is that though an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Polymet Mine has been released to the public, it will be several years before litigation ends and development of the mine will proceed.
The EIS was more than five years in the making, and some negative reaction from the public is expected. However, because of strong support from unions, Iron Range
representatives and Minnesota's executive branch, it's most likely that full permitting will be complete within a year.
He states that even with permits, mining companies will not "get through litigious land mines," and long term financial assurance will not be available. He further notes that non-ferrous mines frequently are bought and sold, and that the financial
strength of new owners may not be enough to secure the necessary environmental and remedial terms.
However, the non-ferrous mines will be very large and long lasting and if changed in ownership, they will be only to other large companies. And, permitting compliance has been and will continue to be covered by insurance.
He states that non-ferrous mining is more volatile than iron mining. Perhaps Mr. Brown is not old enough to remember the long layoffs in winter or because of workers' strikes. Or the fact that if it were not for technology for mining and
concentrating taconite, iron ore mining and the Range would be essentially dead by now.
Also, large, non-ferrous mines in the Southwest United States, Mexico and South America are very long lived, many having been in operation for more than 100 years, as will the copper/nickel mines in Minnesota.
I would like to know what is meant by "in future, clean water and a temperate climate will be more valuable to us than minerals in the ground." Does it follow, then, that no minerals should be mined even though without them our civilization would not exist?
Also, what is meant by "we must balance mineral extraction with resource management?" We wouldn't have profitable mines without good resource management, so, again, does he mean no mining?
And lastly, his statement that "economic diversity is the only hope we have" means what? Does he think that the Range can compete with Silicon Valley, Austin, Boulder or the Twin Cities for high tech industries?
Modern mining is, as he states, very technically advanced, and calls for an educated, well paid workforce. There is no other choice for long-term survival of the Range. If mining were to cease, the Range will be left with ghost towns and will be only a playground for the Twin Cities and other metropolitan areas.
I strongly encourage your newspaper to enlighten your readers to the benefits of mining, including non-ferrous minerals, which can and will be done under very strong environmental requirements, and could last for another 100 years.