Our class has been learning about plans to open a new mine in Minnesota, and the pros and cons of that proposed mine. In my opinion, PolyMet should be permitted to open this new mine (called NorthMet) in Minnesota. PolyMet, a mining company, is interested in becoming the first company to mine copper, nickel, and other precious metals in northeastern Minnesota, or more specifically, the Duluth Complex, an area rich in minerals that borders the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).
The proposed mine has been the source of significant conflict between PolyMet and environmentalists. They are worried that this mine would pollute the nearby Boundary Waters through acid water drainage (when acidic water leaks from mines and pollutes nearby water sources). However, research has shown that the mine would not even be in the Boundary Waters watershed, meaning that the pollution would not flow into the Boundary Waters if a leak occurs. In addition, a leak is highly unlikely, as PolyMet is planning to take steps by building an underground concrete shell that will catch and hold sulfide water the reverse osmosis system does not clean, preventing pollution of nearby environments.
Worldwide, copper is a very valuable resource and the Duluth Complex has an abundant supply. Today, it is used in hospitals, construction, power generation and transmission, electronic manufacturing, engines, appliances and more. The world is estimated to hold 5.8 trillion pounds of copper, of which we have only mined 0.7 pounds (12 percent). The Duluth Complex holds 4 billion tons of copper, nickel, and other precious metals — making it the world’s second largest copper deposit, third largest nickel deposit, second largest platinum-group metal deposit, and an invaluable resource.
Finally, let’s not forget the income that this mine will bring to the surrounding area and the U.S. economy itself. When fully operational, this mine will generate at least 360 jobs, paying $515 million in wages. The project will provide $15 million annually in state and local taxes, $45 million in federal taxes, and over $10 billion during the 20-year period that the mine would operate.
In conclusion, I believe that the NorthMet mine should be built. It will not harm the environment, it will provide a necessary and valuable resource, and it will benefit the surrounding area through more jobs and income.
Bryn Howe is an eighth-grade student at Minnetonka Middle School East.