Help Protect Minnesota's Waters from the near perpetual pollution of toxic heavy metals and Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) that are the byproduct of  Nonferrous Metallic Sulfide  Mining.  


              With the Passage of: 


            Safe Mines To Protect Our Water

                                     Senate  Bill SF 084    and     House  HF  0916


                                                    A 2009 Minnesota Legislative Priority

This type of mining has never been permitted in Minnesota before. 

Write letters to the editor, contact legislators and decision makers and ask them to support the strongest possible legislation to protect Minnesota from the dangers of sulfide mining  

Canadian owned PolyMet, is in the final stages of permitting for their planned 6,700 acre copper sulfide strip mine which would be located on public forested/wetlands.  Representative Oberstar and Senator Klobuchar introduced a  special favors bill in 2008,  called the   Superior National Forest Land Adjustement Act  This federal legislation, if passed,  would  remove long standing environmnetal prohibitions  against strip mining US Forest Service lands.  If this is what kind of treatment the first proposal recieves, what expectations do we have that our regulators and politicians  will protect the interests of Minnesota and it's irreplaceable natural resources. 

Most of the advanced sulfide mining exploration  is taking place in the northeastern part of the state, where our forests, wildlife, wetlands and lakes remain the most pristine.  National treasures such as Lake Superior, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) as well as Voyageurs National Park, face the threat from the destruction and perpetual pollution that follows metallic sulfide mining.  Sulfide Mining Exploration is going on across the entire state of Minnesota   Every major lake, river and watershed in Minnesota lies in an area being explored for it's sulfide mineral potential.  Mining companies are waiting for PolyMet to be the first, before they advance their own sulfide mining plans.


               Click to see the Bill

               Click to see "Safe Mines to Protect Our Water" Fact sheet


             Articles and Op-ed's   

   Duluth News Tribune  op-ed          Failure to regulate mining industry is disastrous

   MinnPost  article       Riled Rangers: DLFers from northeastern Minnesota move to block environmental legislation

   Lake County Chronicle op-ed     Passage of Safe Mines Bill would protect the waters of Lake County and Lake Superior

   St.Paul Legal Ledger   Capitol Report  article     Copper controversy

   Minnesota Public Radio      Lawmakers to mull restrictions on sulfide mining

   Timberjay  article      Bill would create extra hurdles for new mining operations

   StarTribune  article      Minn. lawmakers look at new mining restrictions


 Link to Senate  Bill SF 0845       House and Senate companion bills             Link to House HF 0916


                                SF0845 Status in Senate for Legislative Session 86

            Bill Name: SF0845 Bill Text, Companion: HF0916 Nonferrous metallic mineral mining permits issuance prohibition; financial assurance    from operator of nonferrous metallic mineral mine requirements

       Check Bill staus  at;




Safe Mines To Protect Our Water 

For immediate release: February 18, 2009

Release Date Wednesday, February 18, 2009 

Greg Seitz
Communications Director
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Mary MarrowreceivesAttorney
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

                        Safe Mines To Protect Our Water

                                             Sulfide mining legislation unveiled,

                will protect Minnesotas lakes , rivers and streams from toxic pollution.


ST. PAUL, MN A bill to be introduced tomorrow would be a major step in protecting Minnesotas taxpayers and lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater from the damages of sulfide mining proposed in the heart of the states prized lake country.

Sulfide mining is new in Minnesota, but elsewhere in the country it has polluted water with acid mine drainage and left taxpayers responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-up costs when mining companies have filed for bankruptcy and abandoned their polluted mines.

Now, with sulfide mining companies seeking permits from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and exploration for more sulfide mines occurring throughout the Arrowhead region, laws are needed to protect Minnesotans from problems experienced in other states.

The Safe Mines to Protect Our Water legislation, introduced by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan) would ensure that mining companies are required to provide sufficient financial assurance to the state and that their mines are clean and non-polluting when mining is done.

Mining needs to be a sustainable enterprise, said Carlson. We need to make sure sulfide mines will be good neighbors in Minnesota, providing jobs while protecting our prized waters and our states hardworking taxpayers.

While other states have passed similar legislation only after experiencing the devastating effects of sulfide mining disasters, Minnesota has a chance to lead on the issue, preventing problems before they occur.

The legislation would not be a moratorium on sulfide mining. It seeks to ensure that mining is done right and that mines are modern, model operations that will not leave a legacy of pollution or expensive clean-up bills for taxpayers.

We have a duty to future generations to pass on to them our lakes, rivers and streams as clean and safe as we have enjoyed them, said Hausman. If the legislature does nostatuss this law, our children and grandchildren might not be able to enjoy the fishing, canoing and other pastimes that are cherished Minnesota traditions.

Without protective standards in place, mine waste from sulfide mines could be a toxic problem for hundreds of years. Acidic runoff loaded with toxic metals would threaten the neighboring lakes, rivers and streams of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Lake Superior watersheds.

The legislation is supported by the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, which considers unsafe sulfide mining to be one of the biggest threats to the treasured Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The issue is also a priority for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, a coalition of more than 80 nonprofit conservation and environmental organizations committed to protecting and restoring Minnesotas Great Outdoors.





                 A Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP) 2009 Legislative Priority

                                    Safe Mines To Protect Our Water


The woods and waters of northeastern Minnesota are some of our most treasured natural resources. Millions of people depend on the clean water for drinking and the area is important for recreation and tourismbeloved for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing and other traditional Minnesota pastimes.

The 2009 legislative session presents an opportunity to protect those resources and our states financial health with legislation that regulates the development of copper-nickel mines. This form of miningknown as acid mining or sulfide mininghas never been done before in Minnesota, is very different from taconite mining, and has led to devastating environmental and financial consequences elsewhere in the country.

When waste rock from taconite mines is exposed to air and water, it creates rust. But the byproduct of sulfide mining is toxic sulfuric acid, which leaches heavy metals from the rock and seeps into nearby waters. This is known as acid mine drainage and it pollutes surface water and groundwater, and kills fish or makes them unsuitable for consumption.

Mine proposals in Minnesota do not deny the very real potential for acid mine drainage and
estimate their sites will require decades of treatment of the water that runs off the waste rock piles. This creates an enormous financial liability for state and local governments. Clean up and closure of mines frequently costs tens of millions of dollars. When faced with such clean up tasks, and also because of the volatile nature of the metals market, mining companies have all too often filed for bankruptcy and walked away, leaving taxpayers to pick up the bill. Its very difficult to provide financial assurance to prevent taxpayers from paying for lifetimes of expensive pollution control and mine reclamation. A recent study of Alaskan mines similar to those proposed in Minnesota found that reclamation costs were underestimated by 43 percent.

MEP seeks to ensure any new sulfide mines are operated and closed safely, to prevent long-term harm to our states Great Outdoors legacy and to prevent the financial disasters that other states have experienced. The Safe Mines to Protect Our Water legislation prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from issuing permits to mines which would require wastewater treatment 10 years after closure, and it expands the regulations for calculating and securing financial assurances so that Minnesota taxpayers are not left footing the bill to clean up pollution that leaks into our prized lakes, rivers and streams.

For More Information:

Click here to download a fact sheet from Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

Visit the website of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness to find additional fact sheets and information.

Watch a video of Len Anderson debating Frank Ongaro of Mining Minnesota about the Safe Mines to Protect Our Water legislation on Almanac North (a production of WDSE-TV in Duluth/Superior).  The show was originally aired on Feb. 20, 2009.

Gary Botzek
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

Molly Schultz
Minnesota Environmental Partnership/
Conservation Minnesota

John Tuma
Minnesota Environmental Partnership/
Conservation Minnesota


                                            Images of Acid Mine Drainage   (AMD)


                 Acid  Mine Drainage in South Dakota, DENR                               Acid Mine Drainage in Colorado, USGS