Editorial Counterpoint: Some Additional Facts for the Mining Debate

I’m an environmentalist, conservationist, landlord in Ely and work for Twin Metals Minnesota. And I absolutely agree with the headline of the May 29 Star Tribune editorial, “Yes, Use Facts in BWCA Debate.”

Indeed, facts should be the foundation of any discussion about mining. But given the editorial board’s omission of facts, I’ve included a few below.

For more than a decade, Twin Metals has been focused on uncovering the facts related to copper, nickel, cobalt, and platinum group metal deposits in northeast Minnesota and gathering facts to determine if and how these minerals could be mined in a way that is environmentally friendly and sustainable.

This work culminated in a formal mine plan that was submitted to government agencies in 2019. The purpose of the federal and state environmental review process is to test the facts uncovered in this work against rigorous environmental protection standards. of our country to see if we can move forward.

Here are some additional facts to consider:

FACT: There is a prescribed environmental review process in state and federal laws designed to protect the environment, including the Boundary Waters Boating Area (BWCA).

FACT: The existing regulatory process under the National Environmental Policy Act and our state process in Minnesota requires a thorough review of the science behind our mining plan, which Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill seeks to circumvent.

FACT: The mining ban proposed by McCollum and discussed in the May 29 editorial is not supported by available scientific data. It ignores the very purpose of the regulatory process which is established by statute.

FACT: If granted, the Twin Metals mine will create thousands of family jobs that will support communities in northeast Minnesota. The editorial suggests that these communities should simply seek well-paying jobs elsewhere or find jobs that allow them to work remotely.

FACT: There is no risk that the Twin Metals Project will impact boundary waters due to acid rock drainage. This is based on analysis of the unique geology and our proposed mining methods, which would be subject to review as part of the regulatory process.

FACT: Twin Metals prioritizes environmental protection in all aspects of its proposal. The Twin Metals project will have no negative impact on the BWCA. It cannot by law, and it will not be by design.

FACT: If Twin Metals can’t prove it can protect the surrounding environment, we can’t get our license to operate.

FACT: Northeastern Minnesota holds the key to unlocking America’s mineral resources. We host the largest undeveloped copper-nickel deposit in the world.

We need these minerals for our future, so we need to work together to mine safely here, with strict environmental and labor standards.

I take issue with the fact that Rep. McCollum, through her bill, and the editorial board of the Star Tribune, seem determined to prevent scientific research at a critical time in our history; one that requires us to address our dependence on foreign sources for minerals.

The Biden administration has recognized that we need to increase domestic extraction and processing, and I wholeheartedly agree. By increasing processing capacity, Twin Metals can keep our minerals here in the United States. We are also at an exciting point where we can deliver our nickel and cobalt concentrates directly to domestic battery manufacturers.

I share the commitment to protect the BWCA. The blunt instruments of this bill – and the assumptions presented as fact in the May 29 editorial – fail to recognize the advances of the past 50 years. They fail to recognize the imperative to mobilize all available resources, including critical ethically sourced minerals, to fight climate change. They fail to recognize that there are non-ferrous mines in North America that have been successfully mined, including the Eagle Mine in Michigan, which is currently our only national source of nickel. And they undermine confidence in our country’s strong environmental review processes.

Twin Metals does not require a permit to mine tomorrow. We are requesting that our mine undergo a thorough, scientifically mandated environmental review that will assess whether our proposed plan stands up to scrutiny.

We can exploit and protect the environment. Give the facts a chance to prove it.

Julie Padilla is Regulatory Director for Minnesota Twin Metals.

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