Duluth News Tribune: In Response: Judging Twin Metals Now is Premature, Purely Speculative

Last weekend the Duluth News Tribune ran an editorial from Dean DeBeltz of Twin Metals which argued that anti-mining groups who say Twin Metals cannot operate responsibly are basing these claims on speculation and not science. He could not be more correct.

Twin Metals has yet to submit a mining plan, which means anyone who opposes the mine now is not objecting to any potential technical shortcoming in the design of the project, but rather they are opposed to mining in general, and are projecting this opposition onto the Twin Metals project.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course.

Anti-mining groups like Friends of the Boundary Waters often use scary, but inaccurate, imagery to scare people about copper-nickel mining in Minnesota. The screenshot below is from their website, which shows all of the waterways becoming black -as if they were filled with oil- insinuating that this is the grim future faced by Minnesota’s environment if copper-nickel mining is allowed to proceed. They publish these graphics even though the tailings will be non-acid generating.

There is absolutely nothing scientific about this kind of fear-mongering because there is no proposed mine plan to critique.

Governor Walz has stated that he will “follow the science” on mining, and thus far he has not thrown up roadblocks to the PolyMet project. However, his decision to delay the Line 3 oil pipeline makes me question the sincerity of this his dedication to “following the science.”

In his article, DeBeltz wrote:

We with Twin Metals Minnesota disagreed with the May 24 commentary in the News Tribune calling for a ban on mining in the Rainy River watershed (Local View: “Protect Boundary Waters’ economic, environmental advantages”).

The column cited others’ opinions about the risks of mining to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and, like those others have, engaged in speculation about Twin Metals’ proposed underground copper-nickel mine.

The fact that many assume there will be acid runoff from mine tailings doesn’t make it so. In fact, extensive testing shows that the tailings produced through the mining process will be non-acid-generating.

In addition, underground mining creates opportunities to target the ore, minimize surface impacts, and eliminate waste rock.

Until Twin Metals submits an actual, tangible mine proposal, opinions about the project’s impact are premature and speculative. Once the proposal is submitted to state and federal agencies, it will be subjected to in-depth environmental, social, and economic review under state and federal regulations, i.e. the National Environmental Policy Act. That process will be open to the public for everyone to participate in, and we highly encourage public involvement.

We hope Minnesotans and advocates everywhere will remain open-minded and engaged, especially given the growing and critical need for copper, nickel, and palladium in “green technology.”

Twin Metals Minnesota is committed to operating a sustainable, environmentally safe mine. We look forward to demonstrating that commitment during the regulatory review process — rather than being preempted by speculative opinions.

He’s absolutely right. What’s ironic is that many of the folks who oppose mining are the same people who are demanding a Green New Deal in Minnesota. The people clamoring for a GND don’t understand the massive costs that such a policy would foist on Minnesota families and businesses, so it’s no surprise they’re not taking a data-driven, scientific approach to copper-nickle mining, either.