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To Hell With The Future; We Want Mining Jobs Today

By Mike Hillman

Like many people living in Northeastern Minnesota, I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about all the negative things those environmentalists are telling us about what will happen if we allow those foreign mining companies to come here and tap into the second richest undeveloped reserve of precious metals in the world.  If God wouldn’t have wanted us to mine them, why did he put them here in the first place?  All these extremist groups seem to want to talk about, is all the bad things that are going to happen, if we allow sulfide mining here on the, edge of the Boundary Waters.  It’s like these people have some kind of crystal ball that’s telling them the future for heaven’s sake.  I’ve been paying close attention to what the mining companies are saying, and I think it’s time we give them a chance to demonstrate all the new technology, that they’re going to use, when they start mining all the valuable minerals that God placed here in Minnesota.

The first point I would like to make is that all these bad mines, many of which are now Super-Fund Clean-Up Sites, aren’t even in Minnesota.  In the whole history of mining, there has never been a single instance of any sulfide mines polluting any water in The State of Minnesota.  All those Super-Fund Mines are in other places.  Many of those mines didn’t have the supervision, or cutting edge technology, that our mines are going to employ here in Minnesota.

You can’t judge the future based on the past. They say that those who don’t know history are doomed to make the same mistakes.  The mining companies know better than anyone else that they’ve made some horrendous messes in the past, and they’re really sorry for them.  Nobody feels worse about past sulfide disasters in places like Colorado, Montana, Arizona, and Canada, than the foreign owned mining companies.  They promise if given the chance that they will do it right this time here in Minnesota.  Those past environmental disasters were made by other mining companies, who didn’t have the new and improved, cutting edge technologies that our foreign owned mining companies will use here in Northeastern Minnesota.  When I looked at what their new process was, I couldn’t find anything new, nothing that hasn’t been done before, that’s my definition of new.  But, if those mining companies say it’s new, it’s got to be, don’t you believe?

I’m sure if those mining companies, who made a fine mess of things all over the world, hadn’t gone bankrupt, that they would have been only too happy to help clean up the mess they made.  You can’t ask a bankrupt company to help with anything once they’ve made their money, and finished mining a place.  Like the old saying goes, you can’t get blood out of a turnip.  No one can ask a company, that’s declared bankruptcy, to help take care of its mistakes. That’s why we have the Super-Fund.  The Government Super-Fund has already spent millions and millions of dollars taking care of other people’s messes, but we don’t have to worry, here in Minnesota.  The foreign owned mining companies, who want to bring billions of dollars into the local economy, have better ways of doing things now, or so they say.  Can’t these worry-wart environmentalists forget about the past, and look towards a brighter and better sulfide mining future?

Why do these environmental groups; Like the Friends of the Boundary Waters, have to be so negative.  Don’t they know that millions of Chinese people need to have cell phones, computers, and all the other high tech things that we have here in America.  And how about all those people living in India?  Shouldn’t they have all the same things we do?  Who are we to deprive them of all the high tech stuff that used to be made right here in the USA, but have now been moved overseas, so rich American owned companies, can make even more profit?  Where are we going to get the gold, copper, platinum, and nickel that these poor third world people need for their cell phones?  I’m sure if they were lucky enough to be sitting on all the minerals we have here in Minnesota, that they would be thanking their lucky stars for all the mining jobs.  But because God chose to bless us with tons of valuable minerals, those jobs will be ours.  Let’s tell the EPA to stop worrying about the future, so we can start mining today. You can bet those third world people wouldn’t be whining about a little sulfuric acid polluting their Boundary Waters, if they had a Boundary Waters to worry about.

Finally I’d just like to say that even if the worst thing happened, and our mining companies pulled out after making a lot of money for half a century, and then left us to deal with rivers of sulfuric acid flowing right into the heart of places like Basswood Lake, and Lac LaCroix.  If that were to happen, it would no doubt kill millions of things like fish, ducks, and loons.  People have to realize that even if part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area was polluted by sulfuric acid and heavy metals, there would still be plenty of lakes in the Quetico-Superior Wilderness Area that wouldn’t be ruined by sulfide mining.  God gave us over fourteen thousand lakes in Minnesota, and if a few of them have to die, so that we can have mining jobs today, that’s really a small price to pay.  Sulfide mining will fill our schools with children again, and our economy will be humming for half a century.  Wouldn’t it be worth the loss of a few lakes and rivers, in order to stuff our pockets now?  I say to hell with worrying about rivers of sulfuric acid in the future.  We’ve got enough to worry about.  Let the future take care of itself.  We need to live for today.  We need those mining jobs, no matter what it costs our children and grand children to clean up the mess we make today.

10 comments to To Hell With The Future; We Want Mining Jobs Today

  • Ken Fordahl

    I cant believe you would bring God into this battle, He created those things in the first place, but did not intend for everyone to suffer in perpetuity environmentally. We’ve seen technology before and it doesn’t matter, the only thing these miners care about is money, dont make the rest of us suffer forever just for “their” short time,one sided gain.
    The key to me is your title “To hell with the future” that phrase alone means you dont care about anything but a few locals gaining monetarily in the very short term, there’s much better ways of using resources.

  • Jeff Bush

    Ken,

    I think you are missing the overtones of sarcasm in this article. It is clear that he is satirizing the argument for the mining industry by saying “to hell with the future” and then supporting mining because it will bring jobs in the future.

    You also know that it is satire because he recognizes the tendancy for “rich American owned companies” to maximize profits, so of course they would not have the best interests of Ely in mind.

    Also expressing no sympathy for the environmental health of the BWCA (a huge source of revinue for the town) is way over the top. He might as well have said, well lets destroy all the ecosystems in Minnesota because other states (and Canada) wont be that dumb and we can just send all of our Tourist there to fish, hunt, and canoe.

    Mike,

    I think you should have made this a little bit more over the top. Not everyone knows that Minnesota has 77 superfund sites (9 in St Louis County). http://www.pca.state.mn.us/publications/superfund-2006plp.pdf

    You really should have gone into why we dont need healthy ecosystems in the BWCA because it is not like they support the long term economic stability of the town/region or anything. Also you should have said how Ely would love tons of jobs that will all be gone in 30 years leaving the region with nothing to offer, no minerals, no tourism, and no jobs.

    Overall I like the satire though, keep up the good work.

  • Claduia Rhodes

    I too can’t believe that God has been brought into the arguement, but alas, it has. My understanding from bible school as a lass is that that humans were put here to be “stewards” of the earth. To me that means looking after it and cherishing it. Polluting it in exchange for some temporary jobs would not fall under this definition of stewardship.

  • S. R.

    This has to be a joke. I actually laughed a few times while reading this.

  • Sam Kitterman

    Mike,
    I hope you know that all of us Minnesotans will be held accountable if the mining destroys our environment. History does repeat itself and no entity put metals under the earth’s soil so we could dig it up. Technology, so far as we know, is rhetoric; don’t be fooled Mike. This mining industry is a “boom and bust”.
    As to your title “Hell with the future…” I’m appalled… this is quite a radical statement. Things can’t continue the way they have been. This consuming mentality that you seem to support cannot be practiced with a finite amount of resources. Lakes don’t grow on trees, so to speak.
    I’m an environmentalist and a naturalist. I am a practicing teacher and I teach the children of tomorrow. I’m very aware of our nations need for jobs, but I’m concerned about our Minnesotan ecosystem. I’m part of the future and I certainly don’t want people like you calling the shots.

  • M.M

    Mike,

    You want a good paying job? Go get an education like the rest of us did. Maybe then you won’t be begging for a temporary job working for an environment destroying mining company.

  • Dave

    Mike,
    As I read your article, I was a little confused at first. But as I read on and the sarcasm became more apparent, I started to appreciate your story. KEN, CLADUIA and SAM, I am glad there are involved and concerned people out there that will actually read and comment on topics like this one, but you can’t be so naive not to recognize that this story is complete satire. I am glad that there are people out there that understand this topic. I am not writing just to tell others that they are wrong about interpreting this story, I do appreciate everyone’s comments about this issue. I enjoy the BWCAW every year and truly want my young children to be able to enjoy it with there children and grandchildren someday. If we let this happen, what a mess this will be, there are so many things that this mine is going to destroy. The people that founded this country did everything right, we need to step back and realize that there is more to life than making millions of dollars with no concequences. Sure we need money to live and it does make the world go round, but look at all the crap that has been going on and how the world has done down the toilet in just a couple of decades. Thanks for the opportunity to express my feelings about this issue. Mike, keep up the good work.

  • Eddie Koenig

    I am sincerely hoping, Mr Hillman, that your article was satirical in nature. Case in point? BP. As well as all of those tires off of mining vehicles that were purposely hidden and scattered about. Pollute those waters, you just may as well dump most of it directly into Lake Superior, one of the world’s largest source of fresh water… as it is a Lake Superior watershed. The thought that the SNF is even being considered for mining sickens me. The sad thing? It will go through, mark my words. I guess the US will now outsource my nature experience to another country. Grrr…

  • Dana Crow

    This was really clever. I’m sorry some folk missed the sarcasm. You did it so well, that they probably got mad and stopped reading before they realized your gung ho talk about job development was really tongue in cheek, and that in carrying the miner’s argument to absurdium, you really made a clear case for conservation! Well done.

  • Bill Perkins

    I am from Northeast Indiana. I have lived in this area my entire life. I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Warba and as kids we loved so much to come up to God’s Country to enjoy real earthly beauty. I was born in the Indiana Harbor section of East Chicago. Steel Mills, Heavy Industry and Oil Refineries overshadowed the beauty of the southern shore of Lake Michigan. I was a forth generation steel worker at Inland Steel. Their ore mine is up in Virginia. My family has enjoyed for the past 23 years visiting the Ely area. My children who are all adults now know there is a place of beauty 600 miles north of us where nature and wild life are plenty. We love Shagawa lake and Shagawa Inn Resort. I would suggest to any one who believes that a new mining operation in your most beautiful Northeastern Minnesota is a good idea to drive 600 miles to look at where I live. Drive along the lake and see the towns of Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and South East Chicago and see “Boom Town” reduced to Ruins. The industry made big money and workers were well paid. Thousands however have over the years fallen to hellish cancers and neurological diseases at the cost of putting bread on their tables. The rate of childhood asthma in the “Region” is greater than anywhere in the country! Asthma is a killer. I have it myself along with dystonia and other neuromuscular diseases. Now saying “To Hell With The Future” is something industry may have thought 50 years ago but their lack of pollution control has killed and will kill people in this area for a long time. We suffer today for years of mistakes. There will always be airborne microscopic material in the air from mining operations. The wind carries silent unseen killers that will harm a human being to the point of no repair. Go to the OSHA web site and look at the MSDS or Material Safety Data Sheets for the minerals they are desiring to mine up there. Look at how airborn dust attacks the human body. Now to serve that danger up to innocent generations of the future would be heartless and a self centered act to justify a job today. A good pay day we may think arrives on the wings of a dove but in reality it’s the Grimm Reaper himeslf waiting in silence for the winds of time to carry the message! He has never been wrong before!

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