State auditor on mining: Long-term risk too hard to quantify

  • Article by: Rebecca Otto
  • Updated: November 20, 2013 - 7:22 PM

Why I did not back the leases recently granted for nonferrous mineral exploration.

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jdlellis1Nov. 20, 13 6:08 PM

What environmental extremists embrace is that humans are a part of (not a virus) of this earth and require utilizing earths resources to survive and thrive. Attempts to ensure humans do not use the resources of the earth is ludicrous. As with most things in life, it is important to use but not abuse available resources.

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FreeMplsNov. 20, 13 8:04 PM

Great, no mining here, there, anywhere. Guess what: no copper and thus no Star tribune web page or computer to read it on. Environmental investigations for mining projects are done ad nausem prior to permitting. There are "belt and suspender" protections for even the slightest of risk scenarios for all mine projects in this state. And as far as "up front financing" goes, is the writer aware of the myriad of indemnifications and bonding requirements that are made on behalf of the public interest by mining companies? Sounds like the rote siren complaint of yet another NIMBY urban progressive?

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braxozNov. 20, 13 8:15 PM

jdlellis1 Nov. 20, 13 6:08 PM What environmental extremists embrace is that humans are a part of (not a virus) of this earth and require utilizing earths resources to survive and thrive. Attempts to ensure humans do not use the resources of the earth is ludicrous. As with most things in life, it is important to use but not abuse available resources._________ In most part, I agree with you except you start out with a pejorative "environment extremists" which closes many minds to what follows. We do need the resources for a modern society, but face it, many mining companies are driven by the bottom line and there have been environmental disasters involving the mining industry.

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braxozNov. 20, 13 8:22 PM

FreeMpls Nov. 20, 13 8:04 PM Great, no mining here, there, anywhere. Guess what: no copper and thus no Star tribune web page or computer to read it on. Environmental investigations for mining projects are done ad nausem prior to permitting. There are "belt and suspender" protections for even the slightest of risk scenarios for all mine projects in this state. And as far as "up front financing" goes, is the writer aware of the myriad of indemnifications and bonding requirements that are made on behalf of the public interest by mining companies? Sounds like the rote siren complaint of yet another NIMBY urban progressive?_______________ How many companies enter bankruptcy or dissolve to get out of paying for things when they go wrong? What happens if the clean-up costs exceed the bonding indemnification monies? Then it's left up to the Federal/State governments to clean it up.

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JvonkorffNov. 20, 13 8:26 PM

In the nineteenth century, the copper mining and smelting industry established itself in a region of Tennessee near Ducktown. In a famous case, the Tennessee Supreme court rejected attempts by farmers to stop the industry from destroying their lands and waters. The Court compared the tremendous economic value of the jobs produced by mining to the lesser value of the farms, and ruled that it would be foolish not to protect those jobs. In the ensuing years, copper smelting and mining turned the forests into a desert, poisoned the water, and the cleanup costs have likely far exceeded the total value of the mining that took place there, and the costs will go on for decades. Technology has improved, of course, but long term dangers still exist. The lesson of Ducktown is that merely counting today's benefits without balancing today's cleanup costs is folly.

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ReidCarronNov. 20, 13 8:31 PM

Thank you, Ms. Otto. You are the first statewide office holder to call BS on these giant multinationals and their sulfide mining plans that would destroy the water, land, and economy of northeastern Minnesota. Our governor and our senators are missing in action or, worse, in thrall to the mining companies and their accomplices. This poisonous, destructive sulfide ore mining must not be allowed in the watersheds of the Boundary Waters or Lake Superior. Antofagasta and Glencore make billions, and we are left with ruined land, water, and communities. This is banana republic stuff.

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sek2undrstndNov. 20, 13 8:34 PM

The only people opposed to Mrs. Otto's ideas are investors involved in the project because they know if they have put the money up front, they will not make as much money in the end. Let's see if the investors are willing to put their money where their mouths are. I say put up or shut up!

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sek2undrstndNov. 20, 13 8:39 PM

With present value of money and future value of money, the future clean up costs will ALWAYS far exceed the present benefits from the jobs created.

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jdlellis1Nov. 20, 13 8:48 PM

braxoz, An initial valid point. Conversely, there are extremists on both sides of the political spectrum and the general media tends to focus on the extremes as opposed to the sensible middle. As for the bottom line, this anti-business rhetoric prevalent in today's society is tragic. Rather than go on my own diatribe, allow the latitude to paraphrase former President Clinton during the sunset of his presidency when speaking in Seattle at the World Economic Forum (I believe) in which he was booed off the stage.President Clinton state, "I'm convinced that capitalism is the only path to improve global poverty."

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jbravo30Nov. 20, 13 9:02 PM

It's refreshing to see an elected official standing up to a powerful industry and simply telling it like it is. Otto is absolutely right that the state has an obligation to protect taxpayers from the potential consequences of this type of mining. It's hardly "extremism" to suggest that Minnesotans shouldn't have to pay to pick up after multinational mining conglomerates.

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