Polymet and the Great Lakes

All elements of Turtle Island’s natural world are vulnerable and will be adversely affected by the proposed mining. In keeping alive our rich heritage and relationship with our Indigenous Economics, we are faced with choices that will set our path and leave a footprint for our future generations. That footprint is a choice. We can continue the scorched path that has been forced upon us; now is the opportunity to make the sound decisions for a just and clean future- the green path. 

A myriad of copper, taconite and hard mineral mining projects are inundating the Great Lakes region, from the Ring of Fire, in Ontario, (where at least ten new mines are proposed) to the Keewenaw Bay, south shore of Superior, GTAC mine to the Boundary Waters. All mines will result in water contamination, destruction of wild rice, and huge impacts on the downstream and present Native communities. It is ironic that the two largest barriers to the wholesale mining of the north may be manoomin, or wild rice and the ma’iingan or the wolf.

nosulfide.jpgProposals in both Wisconsin and Minnesota would eviscerate water quality laws with severe impacts on the wild rice or manoomin of the north. In turn, the recent delisting by the US Fish and Wildlife of the wolf seems synchronized exactly with the interests of new mining companies in the region. Tribal communities are opposing the delisting in our territories, and treaty areas. Tribal communities, joined increasingly by northern residents have opposed the threats to water and wild rice throughout the North Country, and regulatory battles are underway in Minnesota.

Our Great Lakes, the homeland of the Anishinaabe people is the water of the western hemisphere. Thousands of years and generations of tradition rely upon this resource, in a clean, productive state. The historic body burden to humans and the ecosystem of a hundred years of mining however is large.  This system is already at risk as residual mine wastes remain in the Great Lakes region and twenty new mining proposals would also dump increased toxicity into the Lakes System. Honor the Earth is interested in the future of the people, land and animal life that depend on these life forces. 

 The mines:

  • Amy Klobuchar Sold us out on Polymet North Met Mine: Polymet, whose majority stakeholder is multinational mining giant Glencore, is the furthest along in the permitting process. PolyMet Mining’s North Met Mine, located between Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes, is the first of what may become many sulfide mine proposals. The proposed copper mine will involve the transfer of some public 6,700 acres under an act being forwarded by Senator Amy Klobuchar called the Superior National Forest Land Adjustment Act. That transfer will allow for the mine access. 
  • The Largest Mine in North America Proposed for the Pristine Boundary Waters: Then, there’s another proposal. That is for the former Franconia mine project, which was purchased by Duluth Twin Metals. Their mining proposal is called “Nokomis,” or grandmother, and, is viewed as more than a bit offensive to the Ojibwe. All projects in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area side of the divide are now consolidated under the one front corporation, Duluth Twin Metals. In turn, Duluth Twin Metals Corporation is owned by Antafagasta, a Chilean mining company. As former Minnesota Representative Frank Moe notes, “Of course they (Antafagasta) have a horrible environmental and human rights record.  Their project, which they've now contracted Bechtel to engineer for them, would be 32,000 acres, the largest in North America.  They have the ability to expand to 54,000 acres on that site.” mines.jpg
“…Currently, an aggressive mining boom throughout Anishinaabeg territory…threatens the water quality and ecosystem of almost every sub-watershed of Lake Superior. This is due to…increases in global metal market prices and friendly political administrations at state government levels -- whose political representatives are focused primarily on short-term job prospects. … These factors, friendly political administration, economic downswings and ultimately a diminishing resource base are pushing mining companies into the region at a very fast rate. ..”
-Keeewenaw Bay Anishinaabe in letter to the Special Rapporteur at the United Nations, 2012

Our Plan:

We will continue and deepen our work with tribal communities who are opposing a set of new and aggressive mining proposals in the Lake Superior watershed, from the  Polymet and GTAC mines in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, to the Eagle Rock Mine in Keewenaw Bay. Honor the Earth will engage in an aggressive two year campaign in this region.       

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