Sulfide
Mining

Water is the lifeblood of the BWCAW. The lakes and rivers of the Boundary Waters connect the whole region, and pollutions that begins in one part of the watershed will inevitably spread to other areas. Peer-reviewed research shows that groundwater polluted by sulfide mining would quickly move into surface water. The geology of the BWCAW can’t buffer acid mine drainage, so the risk to the BWCAW is great.

Sulfide mining interest near the BWCAW isn’t limited to a single mine proposal. Hundreds of prospecting permits have been filed for minerals near the BWCAW, and thousands of acres of state and federal mineral rights have been leased. Applications for state and federal permits have already been filed for the PolyMet mine. Chilean mining company Antofagasta is currently suing to overturn a federal government decision to end their leases on mineral rights next to the BWCAW, leases that would be part of the Twin Metals mine. A number of other companies, including Teck and Kennecott/Rio Tinto are developing proposals for sulfide mining in northern Minnesota.

Our innovative organizing efforts to protect the Boundary Waters from sulfide mining have connected tens of thousands of BWCAW users to public input opportunities to speak up for the BWCAW. We also recognize that success on this issue will require effective collaboration between the people and organizations working to protect Minnesota from sulfide mining pollution. Because of this we co-founded Mining Truth, the coalition that launched sulfide mining from an unknown issue into one of the most hotly debated environmental issues in Minnesota. We also participate in a number of other coalitions – all working together to protect Minnesota’s great outdoors.

As an organization, we do more than make noise. We do the homework needed to make a scientific and legal case that sulfide mining is too risky to be located next to the BWCAW. 

For more information about the sulfide mining issue, view our in-depth issue page.