PROTECTING THE BOUNDARY WATERS FROM SULFIDE MINING

Together, we can save some of the cleanest water on earth.

 
Photo courtesy of    Benjamin Olson

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Olson

 
 

Sulfide mining, the process of extracting copper, nickel and other metals from sulfide ores, has been deemed the most toxic industry in the country by the EPA. When the sulfide ore comes in contact with oxygen or water, it creates sulfuric acid.

Sulfuric acid leaches out heavy metals and chemicals from the mined rock to produce Acid Mine Drainage (AMD).

It’s a guarantee that Acid Mine Drainage would seep into surrounding lakes and streams, contaminate the groundwater and spread through a water system. This could cause irreparable damage to over two-million acres of water in and around the Boundary Waters.

If opened, these mines would destroy some of the cleanest, most pristine water on the planet.

Don’t let them special interests ruin one of the most unique ecosystems in the country.

 
 
 
 

 

WHO’S AT RISK?

 
Clean water Minnesota

Clean Water

Water is our most precious resource. At a time when fresh water scarcity affects all corners of the globe, it’s important to realize how unique it is to have so much pristine water in northeaster Minnesota. Like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Yosemite, this unique abundance of clean water should be cherished and protected as the rare treasure it is.

child in the Boundary Waters

People

Millions of people have experienced the power of the Boundary Waters. In our busy, digitized world, the BWCAW offers a chance for solace, for adventure and to reconnect with others. We go to the wilderness push our limits, to discover something new about our world and ourselves. If these mines were to open and pollute, we would lose an essential part of our heritage

Photo courtesy of Bobby Marko

The Local Economy

Multiple studies show that while sulfide mining would give an initial bump to the economy, it would leave the region with a long, economic hangover. A robust, sustainable wilderness economy has grown around the communities surrounding the BWCAW. During the summer, tourism has a $77 million impact and creates 1,000 jobs. Manufacturing has also resurfaced in the area. However, this economic engine depends on the wilderness character of the region.

 
 

 
 

TWIN METALS

Less than a mile from the border with Boundary Waters, Twin Metals is intent on opening an underground copper-sulfide mine.

Old underground mine.jpg
 

Owned by the Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, the Twin Metals mine would be an ecological disaster for the most-visited Wilderness Area in the United States.

Water is the lifeblood of the BWCAW. Peer-reviewed research shows that pollution and sulfuric acid would quickly seep into the ground and surface water. The geology of the BWCAW can’t buffer acid mine drainage. The pollution would spread through over two million acres of pristine water, including the Quetico and Voyageurs National Park.

 
Underground mine, similar to the one Twin Metals is proposing near the Boundary Waters

Underground mine, similar to the one Twin Metals is proposing near the Boundary Waters

 

Twin Metals isn’t the only one.

Hundreds of prospecting permits have been filed for mineral exploration and permits near the BWCAW.

That’s why a mining moratorium in parts of the Superior National Forest bordering the Boundary Waters is so important to the future of our wilderness.

 

 
 
 

POLYMET

South of the Laurentian divide, in the Lake Superior watershed, is Minnesota’s other proposed sulfide mine, PolyMet.

Financed by Glencore, a firm with a troubling record of human rights abuse and corruption throughout the world, PolyMet’s proposed copper-sulfide mine has been fiercely opposed by the people of Minnesota.

 
The Rio Tinto River in Spain, showing the effects of acidification after years of copper mining

The Rio Tinto River in Spain, showing the effects of acidification after years of copper mining

 

Nonetheless, in November, 2018, Minnesota DNR issued the mining permits it needed to begin operation. 

These permits are not a green light, and PolyMet is still years away from breaking ground. The Friends, along with our partner organizations, have filed a number of legal actions to suspend these permits and block PolyMet’s plans.

The next few years will be decisive. How Minnesota responds to the first sulfide mine proposal by PolyMet will influence how the state deals with future mining proposals.

So what can you do?

 
 

 

FIGHT FOR THE BWCAW

 

The fight against sulfide mining is a fight for the future of the Boundary Waters. It will be a long and difficult fight, but when people get organized and speak up, we can protect this precious place.

Here are ways you can be a part of a movement:

 
 
Campfire in Boundary Waters

get involved

There are many ways you can give back to the wilderness and be the voice of the BWCAW. Learn about volunteer opportunities, stay informed by signing up for our email list, and more.

Kids in the Boundary Waters

Bring a kid into the wild

The survival of the wilderness depends on the next generation of wilderness stewards getting dirt under their nails, exploring, and falling in love with the Boundary Waters.

Cedar Canvas Canoe

DONATE

Your financial contributions play a crucial role in supporting legal action against the mining companies and enshrine further protection for the BWCAW in law.