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CANADIAN MINING PERSPECTIVES: VIEWPOINT – Environmentalism with a civilized approach

"Environmentalism" could be considered a dirty word by the mining community. Those of the green persuasion have oft...



“Environmentalism” could be considered a dirty word by the mining community. Those of the green persuasion have often tried to block mine development. They have cried “nasty” at more than one tailings spill, and they are not necessarily limited by an understanding of the facts. Many times confrontation is the name of the game, but here is a much more civilized approach practised by the SIERRA CLUB.

“The North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club is very concerned about the potential risks to our environment and public health from the proposed NorthMet open pit copper mine near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. At a minimum, we are asking PolyMet Mining, Inc. to more accurately portray the level of public concern and environmental risks of the proposed mine and to correct its public statements about the start-up date of their proposed mine,” wrote John Doberstein, co-chair of the chapter’s Mining Without Harm Campaign.

The club clearly states which concerns are raised (“risks to our environment and public health”). The action it seeks is that POLYMET MINING of Vancouver acknowledge public concerns and clarify information about startup of the mine and mill. Completion of the promised draft environmental impact statement has been repeatedly delayed.

I think this is a marvellously civilized means of communicating with the mining company. It does not mangle the facts; it is not confrontational; and it does not threaten actions or sanctions. The Sierra Club deserves honest answers to its queries.

PolyMet says development of the copper mine and redevelopment of the brownfield mill site will incur direct capital costs of US$312 million to create a mine and mill to handle 29,000 tonnes of ore daily. The NorMet deposit has proven and probable reserves of 165 million tonnes grading 0.96 CuEq. There are also measured and indicated resources of 383 million tonnes at 0.86% CuEq and inferred resources of 110 million tonnes at 0.80% CuEq.

The mining company must take the time to create open dialogue not only with the Sierra Club but also with the Minnesota residents likely to be impacted by the NorMet mine and mill. PolyMet’s own code of business conduct and ethics reflects its ” commitment to a culture of honesty, integrity and accountability ” Let’s add “communications” to the mix and urge PolyMet to make the effort to become a welcome corporate neighbour.


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