Mining potentially an issue for MN Boundary Waters

Alex Stenman, page editor

Minnesota has always been home to a region referred to as the Boundary Waters, a beautiful section of lakes and forests with tourist activities like canoeing and camping along the border of Canada. This distinct Minnesota region attracts thousands of visitors per year is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful places to visit in Minnesota. As such, the landscape has been shielded from harmful contamination by strict preservation laws. However, the future natural health of this Minnesota attraction has been put in jeopardy by renewed leases for sulfide-ore copper mining.

Previously, the Boundary Waters were under tight regulations in order to reduce pollution and keep the park clean for guests. To further protect the Boundary Waters, the federal government and environmentalists who want to protect the purity of the park reached a consensus to further restrictions. The agreement enforced a 20-year ban on mining while the negative side effects were studied in more detail by the US Department of Agriculture. Despite the agreement, only a few months passed before the environmental analysis study by the USDA was canceled, and several companies had their expired mining licenses renewed for the area. While the mining would create many new jobs in northern Minnesota, environmentalists are worried about the runoff pollution from the mining that will empty into the lakes and rivers in the Boundary Waters. Sulfide-ore copper mining has a track record of causing permanent damage to wildlife and the environment in an area, so these environmentalists are campaigning to put nature first ahead of economic profit.

Several promises made by the government under the Obama administration were reversed following the election of President Trump. “The Trump Administration broke its word to us, to Congress, and to the American people when it said it would finish the environmental assessment and base decisions on facts and science,” director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters Alex Falconer said in a statement. Falconer also pointed out that the first mining company that stands to benefit from the opening of the park to mining, Twin Metals, is owned by a Chilean corporation who is currently renting property to Trump’s daughter Ivanka in Washington DC. While this fact is seemingly unrelated, it stands as an interesting convenience for the premier company looking to use the Boundary Waters to profit from mining.

Despite the reversal, ecologists aren’t giving up the fight to protect the Boundary Waters. Online sites have been collecting donations and petition signatures, informing people of the harmful effects mining would have on the area. There have also been many fundraisers, charity runs, and other events with the goal to spread awareness about the situation. If you’re interested in learning more information about the preservation or signing the petition, you can visit