Sorry I missed this one when it happened, almost a month ago. Glencore is the real power behind the PolyMet proposal, and it’s Glencore that would be carrying the bulk of any actual profits from PolyMet sulfide mining far, far from the Iron Range and Minnesota. As well as leaving a massive, toxic mess in its wake, and all that.
Glencore, the world’s biggest mining company, faces a potential investigation by US authorities for alleged money laundering, after being ordered to hand over documents to the Department of Justice…
The subpoena relates to compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and US money laundering laws, Glencore said.
The documents requested relate to its business dealings in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Venezuela, from 2007 to the present day.
This isn’t a pleasant matter to brood over, but it is the reality with which we now have to deal.
Similar federal measures blocking mineral exploration near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will also bite the dust. Now, bear in mind, that doesn’t necessarily mean that shovels will turn in the near future. It does, however, create a regulatory environment where they could. Companies would still need to invest in the expensive business of mining the widely dispersed ores in the region’s mineral reserves. (As I’ve explained recently and for the last 16 years, that is why we should always maintain healthy skepticism and foster more diverse economic opportunities for our region)…
That brings to mind the old wounds likely to be re-opened in coming years. As this wonderful recent Tom Weber story on Minnesota Public Radio shows, the 1970s BWCA debate created enduring division in the city of Ely. Some of the same people, their kids and grandkids, are prepared to fight the issue all over again.
For years, the nonferrous mining debate has centered on mining projects *near* the BWCA. The same watershed, but not within the boundaries of the park. But as this Jan. 19 story in the Guardian shows, Republicans don’t just want to eliminate regulations near federals lands like the BWCA, they actually want to transfer the lands, at a significant discount, in most cases to the states.
This was not a surprise, but it still sucks.
Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, issued the following statement in response:
“The transfer of thousands of acres of Superior National Forest land to PolyMet is a bad deal for taxpayers, premature, and not in the public interest. No exchange of land can undo the damage that PolyMet would do to this area. The land that PolyMet seeks to mine contains thousands of acres of high-value wetlands that are irreplaceable.
The standard for federal land exchanges is that the exchange must be in the public interest. PolyMet would create polluted water that would require expensive treatment for hundreds of years. PolyMet would be the largest permitted destruction of wetlands in Minnesota history. The risk to the St. Louis River, Lake Superior, and downstream communities from this mine proposal demonstrates why it is not in the public interest…
(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)
Meanwhile, copper and nickel prices remain at long-term lows in a glutted market, and the inevitable Trump recession will only drive them further into the depths.