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Editorial: All Minnesota has stake in mining debate

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Northeast Minnesota has a natural attraction of wild land and clear water that draws tourists from Duluth to Ely to Grand Marias. The region also contains valuable ore that created a mining industry that helped develop the region and Minnesota.

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More than a dozen companies are exploring northeastern Minnesota for copper, nickel, gold and other precious metals. Mining officials claim that hard rock mining can now be done safely and with little or no environmental impact. Many citizens are looking forward to a possible new mining industry and the resulting economic growth.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about the prospect of this new mining. Mining critics point to similar operations in the western United States that have polluted many streams, rivers and lakes with acidic runoff.

The mining issue is dividing communities in the region as the debate grows over mining potential and possible dangers.

All in Minnesota have an interest in the prospect of mining and the protection of natural resources in northeast Minnesota. Both the precious metal ores and other natural resources of the region are part of Minnesota’s legacy.

Two companies — PolyMet Mining Corp. and Twin Metals — have proposed possible mining operations in a geological formation called the Duluth complex. Mining officials claim that technology has improved their operations and they can handle potential runoff.

A coalition of Minnesota conservation groups have formed a joint effort called Mining Truth to start a public dialogue about precious metals mining and the water-rich environment of Minnesota. These critics claim that hard-rock mining would be a danger to the natural resources, especially water.

The debate is growing on whether mining, tourism and natural resources can co-exist in northeastern Minnesota. The reality is that this new mining potential as well as its possible dangers should be of interest to all in Minnesota.

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