GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – Minnesota is a “treasure trove of mineral resources” and environmentally responsible mining could add billions to the state’s economy, according to a new study.
The study, Unearthing Prosperity: How Environmentally Responsible Mining Will Boost Minnesota’s Economy, was conducted by the Center of the American Experiment and calls attention to the economic impact of copper-nickel mining in Northern Minnesota.
According to the study, Minnesota could reap billions in economic benefits through mining while still enjoying a safe and clean environment. The study focuses on three proposed copper-nickel mining projects, and one titanium ore processing facility. The proposed projects have sparked fierce debate, particularly as the election season ramps up.
Isaac Orr, a policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment specializing in energy and environmental policy, says the proposed mining projects, if approved, have the “potential to be a powerful economic force for Minnesota’s economy.”
“This is a huge opportunity, and it is important that voters understand the issue and demand their candidates support environmentally responsible mining,” Orr told Alpha News.
The new study reveals mining could generate $3.7 billion in annual economic output and create 8,500 jobs. Mining would also add $198 million a year in state and local tax revenues, benefiting schools and local communities.
Orr says most people don’t realize just how much Americans depend on metals and minerals for everyday life.
“Mining Minnesota’s massive copper and nickel deposits will provide Americans with the metals that they depend upon for everyday life,” Orr said. “We don’t often think about the fact that a house has 400 pounds of copper in it, but metals and minerals are like food, we can’t live without them. We get these metals through mining, and if we don’t mine them here, they will be mined somewhere else.”
For some, the potential environmental risks outweigh the economic benefits, with critics citing particular concern for the lakes and forests of the region. Orr notes that everything has an environmental impact, but says proper precautions can manage the risks.
“It’s true that copper-nickel mining comes with different risks than iron ore mining, but these risks are manageable with modern environmental protection technology and strict regulations,” Orr said.
While some have voiced concern over mining having an impact on the tourism industry in Northern Minnesota, Orr says it is not a trend seen in other mining regions.
“Some people think mining will destroy the tourism economy, but this assumes a steep drop off in tourism due to mining that we just don’t see elsewhere,” Orr said. “For instance, the Eagle Mine, a nickel-copper mine in Upper Michigan began production in the Fall of 2014, and tourism spending has increased in Marquette County, where the mine is located, since then.”
To accompany the study, the Center of the American Experiment announced a $270,000 campaign starting after Labor Day that will include billboards, TV and radio spots, and social media outreach. To read more about mining in Minnesota, click here.