Sulfide Mining Near BWCA

6 min read

The BWCA is facing a major turning point in its history and needs level heads and calm minds to determine the proper way to proceed. We are faced with the contentious issue of non-ferrous sulfide mining in or near the lakes and streams of the BWCA. The EIS was released this week and the countdown for public comment has begun. It is very important that we let our thoughts be known and get all questions on the table.

The Polyment Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released this week, October 26, 2009

Test drilling done to date by mining companies has determined that there are recoverable amounts of copper and nickel in the sulfide ores in our area. We have the possibility of some new mining jobs coming into our area. Our area has also been hit hard by the recent economic downturn and new jobs would be dearly welcomed. However, this is just one piece of a very complex puzzle that needs to be considered if the results we desire are to include maintaining the natural beauty and present day, at a minimum, functionality of the BWCA.

This area is known for its iron mines and long history of supporting the mining industry. The process of mining copper and nickel are so different from the process of mining iron ore that we, as residents of this area, and anyone who values the BWCA and their experiences here, must look carefully at the downside of sulfide mining and the likelihood of “acid mine drainage” into the BWCA.

I have found no one against mining or bringing new jobs into our area. Everyone would like to see economic development, prosperity and the new jobs that a new business would bring to our area. However, many of these same people are understandably unwilling to sacrifice the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and clean water for those same jobs.

In the next few weeks, we will attempt to gather facts from any and all sides of this issue and let you know what is happening here. If you have ever been to Ely or the BWCA, know someone who has or know of someone who might someday want the same opportunity to enjoy the BWCA as you have, please let them know and ask them to participate in the discussion. Let your thoughts and feelings be known, email us with your thoughts questions or concerns. If you ask a question we don’t know how to answer or don’t have the facts to be able to answer properly, we will find someone involved with the process that will. If you prefer contact the stakeholders directly.

For starters check out the following links to learn what Sulfide Mining is and some history of the effects of Sulfide Mining. Then do a search for “acid mine drainage” on Google and see what you find. Then do a search on Google for “safe sulfide mining” and see what you find. What do you think?

Please visit as many of the resources listed as possilbe until you are comfortable with your understanding of the difference between iron mining and copper hard rock sulfide mining. They are not the same, they are not even similar, except for taking a mineral out of the ground. The economics, processing and environmental effects are like night and day in their differences. We think you will be surprised at what you find.

Contact Us’s Sulfide Mining Blog

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness

Save Our Sky Blue Waters

Acid Mine Drainage and Effects on Fish Health and Ecology

Wikipedia Article on Acid Mine Drainage

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