Duluth News Tribune
Opinion: Senator Dave Brown
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to tour the proposed PolyMet mine site near Hoyt Lakes. PolyMet would like to reopen a former taconite mine for copper and nickel. Not knowing much about the mining industry in general, I was curious about the new jobs, tax revenue and other opportunities that could be generated for the state.
The staff members at PolyMet are lifelong Iron Rangers proud of their northern Minnesota mining heritage. They are avid outdoors enthusiasts who enjoy hunting, fishing and frequent trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. PolyMet has put together an experienced mining staff with strong and loyal employees who represent the best of Minnesota.
Refurbishing the PolyMet site will cost about $475 million and take about 2 million working hours. This is about the same as building Target Field, the new baseball stadium in Minneapolis. New jobs will be for carpenters, laborers, operating engineers and teamsters. Once the buildings and equipment are repaired and refurbished, the plant will have about 360 jobs that will pay $26 to $32 per hour year-round, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Over the 20-year life of this proposed project, it is estimated to generate $720 million in wages and benefits, $300 million in state and local government taxes and $10.3 billion for St. Louis County.
Obviously, all mining operations have environmental concerns. But as I noted earlier, many of the people currently working for PolyMet in Minnesota are Iron Rangers. I do not believe they would jeopardize their way of life and favorite pastimes.