I am a conservationist, an environmentalist, a homeowner in Ely and I work for Twin Metals Minnesota. And I absolutely agree with the headline on the Star Tribune's May 29 editorial, "Yes, use facts in BWCA debate."
Indeed, facts should be the foundation of any discussion about mining. But given the Editorial Board's omission of facts, I've included a few key ones below.
For more than a decade, Twin Metals has been focused on uncovering the facts related to the copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals mineral deposits in northeast Minnesota and gathering facts to discern if and how those minerals could be extracted in a way that is environmentally safe and sustainable.
That work has resulted in a formal mine plan that was submitted to government agencies in 2019. The entire purpose of the state and federal environmental review process is to test the facts uncovered in that work against our nation's rigorous environmental protection standards in order to determine whether we can move forward.
Here are some more facts to consider:
FACT: There is an environmental review process prescribed in state and federal laws designed to protect the environment, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).
FACT: The existing regulatory process under the National Environmental Policy Act and under our state process in Minnesota requires thorough review of the science behind our mine plan, which Rep. Betty McCollum's bill seeks to circumvent.
FACT: The mining ban proposed by McCollum, and discussed in the May 29 editorial, is not supported by available science. It ignores the very purpose of the regulatory process that is established in law.
FACT: If it earns its permits, the Twin Metals mine will create thousands of family-sustaining jobs that will support the communities of northeast Minnesota. The editorial suggests those communities should simply go find high-paying jobs elsewhere or that they should find jobs that allow them to work remotely.
FACT: There is no potential for the Twin Metals project to impact the Boundary Waters from acid rock drainage. This is based on analysis of the unique geology and our proposed mining methods, which would be subject to review under the regulatory process.
FACT: Twin Metals prioritizes environmental protection in every aspect of the proposal it is putting forward. The Twin Metals project will not negatively impact the BWCA. It cannot by law, and it will not by design.
FACT: If Twin Metals cannot prove it can protect the surrounding environment, we can't earn our permit to operate.
FACT: Northeastern Minnesota holds the key to unlocking America's mineral resources. We host the largest undeveloped copper nickel deposit in the world.
We need these minerals for our future, so we need to work together to mine safely here under strong environmental and labor standards.
I take issue with the fact that Rep. McCollum, through her bill, and the Star Tribune Editorial Board, seem intent on preventing scientific inquiry at a critical time in our history; one that demands we address our reliance on foreign sources for minerals.
The Biden administration has recognized that we must increase domestic mining and processing, and I strongly agree. By expanding processing capacity, Twin Metals can keep our minerals here in the U.S. We are also at an exciting point where we can deliver our nickel and cobalt concentrates directly to domestic battery manufacturers.
I share the commitment to protect the BWCA. The blunt instruments of this proposed law — and the assumptions presented as facts in the May 29 editorial — do not recognize the advancements of the last 50 years. They do not recognize the imperative to marshal all available resources, including ethically sourced critical minerals, to combat climate change. They fail to acknowledge that there are nonferrous mines in North America that have successfully operated, including Eagle Mine in Michigan, which is currently our only domestic source of nickel. And they undermine confidence in our nation's robust environmental review processes.
Twin Metals is not asking for a permit to mine tomorrow. We are asking that our mine receive the thorough, science-based environmental review proscribed in law, which will assess whether our proposed plan holds up under scrutiny.
We can mine and protect the environment. Give the facts a chance to prove it.
Julie Padilla is the chief regulatory officer for Twin Metals Minnesota.