A high-profile public hearing is tonight in Virginia on Minnesota’s Iron Range on the U-S Forest Service’s controversial plan to withdraw leases for a proposed copper-nickel mine. Jane Reyer with Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness says there’s risk that something will go wrong over the next thousand years and “whatever engineered systems they have designed that they think will keep the water contained don’t function the way they were planned to.” Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce President Lory Fedo responds with state requirements and top expertise on the Range, the project will be safe for the environment. Fedo says, “It will be a mine that people can look to and say, hey, we did it right in Minnesota.”
Fedo says the Iron Range economy has had tough times and people need jobs in the mining industry. “It’s an important part of my life and will always be,… as it is to so many people who live here,” she says. Reyer responds she certainly has sympathy for people who need jobs, but mining has not been sustainable over time. Reyer says, “They might be provided with mining jobs now, but that just kicks the can down two or three more generations, and eventually their children or their children’s children are going to be in the same position that they are in right now.” She says the IRRRB should do what it was supposed to do: truly diversify the economy of northern Minnesota.