With that, Range leaders kicked off a press conference where they announced a boycott of a July 18 public hearing in St. Paul on the controversial, proposed 20-year mining ban on over 234,000 acres of northeastern Minnesota public land.
“I’m not going down to St. Paul,” said county commissioner Tom Rukavina. “I’m saying come up to Virginia, come up to our hearing and look us in the eye and tell us what we do for a living is no good.”
Rukavina, Metsa and several other local officials – including Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich – spoke at Wednesday’s event where Range officials said they’d sit out the St. Paul hearing and instead wait for a similar event July 25 at Virginia.
The hearings come as federal officials consider withdrawing public land from mining activity, a move that would essentially torpedo proposed copper-nickel mining development on the Iron Range.
Range legislators and other elected officials, as well as business and labor leaders, are fighting back in a coordinated effort that included this week’s press event.