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LETTER: ... dusty man camps and busy prostitutes

To the Editor:
The economic illiterates promoting mining for economic development should check out some of the Wikipedia pages on copper mining. The page “Copper mining in the United States” lists Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, and Montana as the top copper producing states. A little research reveals that each one of those states has a lower per capita personal income than Minnesota. We can debate the reasons for the failure of copper mining to produce prosperity but the numbers are what they are.
The June 27 Ely Echo article about Representative Hackbarth’s Mining and Outdoor Recreation committee presented another public relations talking point from mining promoters that is getting a little tiresome. Once again, we read an objection to use of the term, sulfide mining.
I spent several years working in the mines and still attend mining conferences to stay informed about latest technology. What term do you think real miners use to discuss the problems of mining in a sulfide ore body? Sulfide mining. They use it in their literature, they use it at their conferences, and they use it in casual conversation because it describes what they do. It’s dishonest to attack language that’s accurate.
Mr. McFarlin’s comments about rumors of an open pit show little respect for the basis for those rumors. I have a copy of a May 1974 publicity release about Inco’s proposed mine which would have taken out part of the Spruce Road and Filson Creek. Their map shows an open pit mine and concentrator within two miles of the BWCA and a tailings basin within one mile of our wilderness area. If mining developers believed 40 years ago that they could do an open pit next to the Boundary Waters it’s reasonable to believe they’ll do it now if they can buy enough legislators and congress members. Minnesota’s last legislative session was not reassuring. The Boundary Waters is still threatened.
One more economic issue. I’ve often asked for a list of thriving mining communities. If mining is going to improve our economic situation we should have a few examples of where it’s worked. The closest I’ve come to a development recommendation is Republican Chip Cravaack’s goal of turning his district into the Bakken of minerals. Most news reports picture the Bakken as a conglomeration of dusty man camps and busy prostitutes. Whether it’s peddling sex or dubious mining projects, I would hope for a better development model for Minnesota.
Bob Tammen
Soudan, MN

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