Thunder Bay

Opponents to copper mine in northern Minnesota hope to rally support in Fort Frances, Ont.

A proposed copper mine in northern Minnesota will get some attention Wednesday evening at a public meeting in Fort Frances, Ont.

Contentious Twin Metals mine proposed for area near Ely, MN

The Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota is the site of a proposed copper mine. Opponents to the project say effluent from the mine would flow through the pristine Boundary Waters area, as well as Quetico Provincial Park, before making its way into Rainy Lake and the Rainy River. (Submitted by Lukas Leaf )

A proposed copper mine in northern Minnesota will get some attention Wednesday evening at a public meeting in Fort Frances, Ont.

The Coalition to Save the Boundary Waters hopes to get some support from Canadians, and wants people in Fort Frances to speak with government to try and have Canadian politicians oppose the mine south of the border.

"This type of mining in sulfide bearing ore inevitably leads to the degredation of water quality," said Becky Rom, the Chair of the coalition.

"And yet, what we have here are interconnected waters, and our water quality is extremely good."

Rom said water discharged from the mine would lead to the Boundary Waters, and through Quetico Provincial Park before reaching Rainy Lake and Rainy River, which include Canadian and U.S. waters.

"It's also very vulnerable, because the chemistry of the waters tells us there's very little in the way of base compounds that would buffer the introduction of acid mine drainage," which is what comes from copper mining, she said.

Rom said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes copper mining as the most toxic industry in the country. She said the juxtaposition of the protected areas and the toxic industry is the reason so many people are opposed to the project.

Rom said she's not willing to allow industry to say it will not degrade air and water quality, as each existing mine in the United States has made some impact on the surrounding environment.

She said one concern is because the area has been declared as a mining district, that water quality standards in that portion of Minnesota are different.

What she ultimately wants to see, Rom said, is more Canadians showing an interest in an environmental issue that will eventually affect them.

"The Lac la Croix First Nation is already engaged. It would be the first settled community the pollution flows by," she said, noting the community asked the U.S. government in 2016 for a ban on copper mining in its watershed.

The public meeting is slated to start at 7 p.m. at the Fort Frances Public Library.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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