Minnesota’s Iron Range Dilemma

Doc and his John — on the Canadian side of the Boundary Waters Canoe area, Quetico Provincial Park — about 1 second before they flipped their canoe over!

Upon migrating to America in 1902, my Grandfather Nordberg began his life working in an iron mine near Pengilly, Minnesota. The young woman he married, also a recent migrant, worked in a restaurant there. Enterprising, he finally hired a crew of loggers and began cutting much needed timbers for underground iron mines. Decades later, one of my Nordberg cousins drove a Uke (Euclid) in an iron mine. Iron mining is therefore in my family’s blood and I am proud of it.

It is therefore not my intention to do anything that might make the lives of those who live in our Iron Range more difficult than it already is. If I can, I only want to help protect them from what is certain to happen if sulfide (copper) mining gains a foothold in northeastern Minnesota. PolyMet says copper mining will be bigger in Minnesota than iron mining and I personally can envision it happening, having often seen its widespread devastation in New Mexico and Arizona. A large part of Minnesota’s scenic Arrowhead Region can indeed be turned into a rocky moonscape by copper mining where nothing can live thereafter for thousands of years. In the long run it would probably cost Minnesota cost taxpayers much more than can be gained from copper and nickel to keep sulfuric acid and other poisonous substances from spreading via water and air to nearby towns, farms and forests including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. The proof that this can happen is enormously documented on the internet. Just type in “Copper Mining in North America” and see what you find. If you do not have a computer, call Friends of the Boundary Wilderness (612-332-9630) or write to Friends of the Boundary Wilderness, 401 N 3rd St., Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1475 and ask for a copy of “A Mining Truth Report.”

Today, Minnesota’s iron rangers are in a terrible economic bind not of their own making. Ironically, Minnesota’s current unemployment rate is 3.7, one of the lowest in America. Rather than allow dangerous and destructive copper mining to begin in Minnesota, I wish our state legislature would create and pass a bill that would enable laid-off iron miners to learn a new trade and resettle in economically healthy areas throughout our state wherever needed. Surely this would be a safer and least expensive way to solve “Minnesota’s Iron Range Dilemma.”

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