Political Matters
Twin Metals digs in
Friday, April 13 2012
Written by The Circle Staff,
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Since December 2009, I have written a number of columns about copper-nickel mining, a significant environmental threat to the North Country. My focus has been on the Canadian firm PolyMet (; but it seems that another mining outfit, Twin Metals (, which has an interest in large tracts of land south and east of Ely, might be the first sulfide mining project that gets a permit to being operating.
Minnesota has a long history of iron ore and taconite mining; but the extraction of copper-nickel and precious metals (palladium, silver, gold and platinum) would be something new in the state.
In late March a headline in the Duluth News Tribune announced: "Twin Metals Ely mine project takes steps forward." The article notes that the company is "collecting baseline environmental date across 32,000 acres… under which geologists say is a jackpot discovery of copper."
The newspaper reported that Twin Metals "formally announced Thursday [March 22] that it has instructed its engineering contractor, global giant Bechtel, to draw up plans for an 80,000-ton-per-day mine and processing plant, putting Twin Metals on par with the largest mines in the world."
So, one of the "largest mines in the world" is being developed on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness - and on land that is within the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory, so the Bois Forte and Grand Portage Ojibwe bands have a legally-recognized interest in how this land is developed.
The 1854 Treaty reserves hunting, fishing and gathering rights in the land that was ceded to the U.S. government. And as I have reported previously, the Fond du Lac band is closely monitoring the progress of the sulfide mining schemes, which have the potential to pollute the reservation's surface and ground water, and destroy wild rice beds.
Native Issues in the Halls of Government
Friday, March 09 2012
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Protect Our Manoomin
The environmental threats from proposed copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota will come into public view when dogsled mushers deliver petitions to the Capitol in St. Paul on March 8. As I write this column, a sled dog run is scheduled to leave Ely and Grand Marais in a few days, with stops in Finland and Duluth, and a rally with the mushers and sled dogs 10:30 a.m. Thursday, March 8 at the Capitol.
The Canadian firm PolyMet ( is leading the charge to dig out copper, nickel and precious metals in the Duluth Complex, in and around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness - and in the 1854 Treaty Ceded Territory.
Native Issues in the Halls of Government
Sunday, February 19 2012
Written by Mordecai Specktor,
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Down the memory hole
Arizona became notorious in 2010, with the enactment of a punitive anti-immigrant law, SB 1070 – known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The law allows local police to question a person’s immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion,” if a person is stopped for another criminal violation. As I wrote in my July 2010 column, the law had been decried as an invitation to racial profiling; it was feared that Latinos, or anyone with brown skin, would become the targets of law enforcement authorities under the new law.

Native Issues in the Halls of Government
Sunday, January 08 2012
Written by by Mordecai Specktor,
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White Earth's gaming proposal
The political dynamics of the Minnesota Vikings stadium funding debate changed in December, with the departure of Sen. Amy Koch, R-Buffalo as the Senate majority leader. And at a second Senate committee hearing on the stadium issue, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe introduced a proposal to open a new casino in Ardens Hills, the stadium site favored by the Vikings' owners.
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