Minnesota Commissioners of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) all visited the closed Flambeau mine near Ladysmith, Wisconsin on Wednesday, October 2, 2013.
The mine produced copper and other metals for several years during the 1990s and has been reclaimed and closed for more than 10 years.
“Because of the interest and debate about nonferrous mining in Minnesota, we thought it would be valuable to visit this project and get first-hand information from Wisconsin officials,” said Minnesota DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.
Wisconsin DNR staff was present to provide a mine site tour and present detailed information about the Flambeau mine project.
“We had a very productive discussion,” said Wisconsin DNR Deputy Secretary Matt Moroney. “We appreciate our neighbors from Minnesota traveling to Wisconsin to talk about the project, and are grateful for the deepening partnership between our two states when it comes to environmental protection and wildlife issues.”
This sentiment was echoed by MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine. “Effective environmental protection has no borders. Our work with the Wisconsin DNR serves as an example of how states can benefit from the sharing of experience and knowledge,” he said.
In the past decade, copper-nickel mining has become an important environmental topic in Minnesota as a number of companies have begun actively exploring the potential for mining these minerals. In particular, a geologic formation known as the Duluth Complex in northern Minnesota has been identified as a “world class” deposit of copper and nickel. To date, only one company, PolyMet, has formally proposed to mine these minerals in Minnesota and its project near Hoyt Lakes, known as NorthMet, is currently undergoing environmental review.
“My sense of Minnesotans’ outlook on nonferrous projects is that they’ll make darn sure they will be done right,” said IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich. “It was good to do our homework, see this mine with our own eyes and be able to ask the local regulators about their experiences and the mine’s impact. Once again Minnesota leadership is showing the way to balancing environmental protection with economic potential.”