Copper, Nickel, and Titanium Mining Would Nearly Offset Estimated Population Decline in Northern Minnesota
Anti-mining activists often claim that mining will result in lost tourism jobs and therefore cause the population of the Iron Range to fall. However, this argument flies in the face of population data from Michigan that show the population of the Upper Peninsula has fallen steadily over the years as the mining economy has declined despite the “sustainable” tourism economy.
This claim also flies in the face of estimates made by the Minnesota state demographer, which estimates that northern Minnesota counties will experience a declining population through 2050. For example, the population of St. Louis County is expected to decline by 5,114 people, the population of Koochiching County is expected to fall by 4,129, and Lake County’s population will fall by 2,164. Itasca and Cook Counties are expected to grow by 1,419 and 278, respectively.
This means total outmigration from these counties is expected to total 9,710 people. That is unless 8,500 people are employed as a result of new jobs created by mining Minnesota’s wealth of copper, nickel, platinum, cobalt, and titanium.
Our report, Unearthing Prosperity, finds that mining Minnesota’s mineral resources will add $3.7 billion to our state’s economy every year, and support nearly 8,500 jobs. Direct jobs at the mines account for 1,900 of these potential jobs, which is significant because mining jobs are good jobs, paying average wages of around $80,000 per year. This is in sharp contrast to tourism jobs that pay only $16,500 per year.
People leave regions they love if they cannot find the kind of high-paying jobs they need to raise a family. We need environmentally responsible mining to ensure Minnesota has a healthy environment, and a healthy economy.