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One of my favorite things to read each week is Harold Hamilton’s Friday commentary. Suffice it to say that Hamilton isn’t into repeating conventional wisdom mumbo jumbo. This week, Hamilton devoted a portion of this week’s commentary to a section titled “The DFL crack up.” The important point that Hamilton highlighted was a quote from Ann Manning, identified as “the director of Women’s Congress for Future Generations and associate director of the Science & Environmental Health Network.” Manning is quoted as saying “The workers have no connection to the community, get paid large sums of money and have little to do in their free time. Some will bring trouble, attracting the drug trade, sex trafficking or both. They will pollute the land by day, and women and children by night.”

Right before that, Hamilton wrote “The second example comes from the pen of Ann Manning, who wrote a scathing hit piece on construction trade workers this week, warning that pipeline work inevitable invites violent crime, as she believes these workers to be violent criminals inclined to engage in drug use and sexual assault.”

It isn’t just Hillary Clinton that thinks blue collar workers are deplorables. It’s painfully obvious that Ms. Manning thinks blue collar workers are deplorables, too. The DFL, like the Democratic Party nationally, is turning into an elitist party.

One of the things blue collar workers should learn from my previous post about refugee resettlement is that the Democrats’ policies are making income inequality worse because the Democrats’ policies are hurting the middle class. The DFL hasn’t implemented pro-growth tax and regulatory policies that help the middle class thrive. Instead, the DFL has been the anti-mining, anti-pipeline political party. With policies that eliminate high-paying blue collar jobs or, at minimum, make them virtually impossible to find, Democrats have made life difficult for the middle class and the blue collar workers.

This year, when people see that their paychecks are bigger as a result of the Trump/GOP tax cuts and that the DFL is still the anti-mining political party, it won’t take a genius to figure out that Republicans will fight for blue collar construction jobs, mining jobs and middle class tax cuts. It won’t take a genius because Republicans have been fighting for those things the last 5+ years. Check out this video, then ask yourself if Ms. Manning sounds like a mainstream type of person:

If that’s your definition of mainstream, I suspect that you think Howard Dean is a little too moderate for your liking.

The DFL has sold out to the environmental activists. It’s taken awhile but the DFL’s anti-mining policies have turned miners off. The most underreported story in Minnesota politics is that the DFL split on mining/the environment isn’t subsiding. It’s getting bigger.

Friday morning, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources “released a draft permit to mine Friday morning for PolyMet Mining” in what’s being called “a major step forward for what’s poised to be the first copper-nickel mine in the state.” While this isn’t the final step needed to mine, “the draft permit, which includes conditions the state would place on the Canadian mining company, signals the state is comfortable the mine, as proposed, can meet environmental standards and provide significant financial assurances to pay for any needed mine cleanup.”

While that’s a major step forward, the project still faces additional hurdles before construction can start. The next step allows the public “to weigh in on the draft permit, including at two public hearings scheduled Feb. 7 in Aurora, on the Iron Range, and Feb. 8 in Duluth. The DNR will also accept formal objections and petitions for special contested case hearings on the permit before a state administrative law judge.” After that, the MPCA “also plans to release draft water quality and air quality permits, two additional major permits PolyMet needs to obtain before it could open its proposed mine and processing plant near Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes.” That still isn’t enough to open the mine:

Environmental groups have already filed four lawsuits, most challenging a proposed land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service, and more suits are expected if the state eventually grants PolyMet permits. If the DNR calls for evidentiary hearings before an administrative law judge to gather testimony on aspects of the mining plan that are disputed by environmental groups and Indian tribes, that could tack on another 6 to 9 months to the regulatory process.

A vote for a DFL governor is a vote for continuing the status quo. In this instance, this process started in 2004 with the “Initial Environmental Review.”

According to this article, which was written on “Dec. 16, 2015”, PolyMet spent $249,708,000 in its attempt to get the mine operational:

Anyone that thinks spending $250,000,000 is reasonable to get approval for a mine hates mining and miners. The DFL and their front groups (think Sierra Club, Conservation Minnesota and Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters) might think that’s reasonable but sane people don’t. If anyone wants to know why entrepreneurs are leaving Minnesota, the regulatory climate is a major reason. There’s nothing reasonable about it.

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Earlier this week, Rebecca Otto was endorsed by the DFL Environmental Caucus. Veda Kanitz, the chairwoman of the DFL Environmental Caucus, said “Rebecca Otto is a powerful voice for the environment and for a better Minnesota economy. We wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for governor of Minnesota.”

According to the article, “The caucus is made up of about 400 members from across the state who are trying to promote an environmental protection agenda among the state’s Democrats.” Further, “The caucus, which has been around about four years, made headlines in 2016 during the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention when it succeeded in advancing an anti-copper mining item in the party platform.” That platform plank was removed but the division between the environmental activists and the miners still exists.

This isn’t new. Otto has fought against mining for years. In Oct., 2013, Otto voted against approving 31 mining leases:

The council’s lone “no” vote, State Auditor Rebecca Otto, stated that she had had “a revelation” early the morning of the meeting that informed her vote. “We have not done copper sulfide mining in this state yet,” said Otto. She expressed concerns about potential fiscal burdens associated with copper sulfide mining that might be placed on future generations.

Let’s be clear about something. Otto is the most anti-mining gubernatorial candidate in the race on either side. By far. The chances of her winning the Iron Range vote are microscopic if not non-existent.

If Otto is the gubernatorial candidate and Tina Smith is the Senate candidate, expect a huge anti-DFL turnout in CD-8. This is personal to them. Shortly after her anti-mining vote, “Dump Otto” signs popped up virtually overnight. Rangers view Otto as a carpetbagger. Saying they don’t like her is understatement.

Ms. Otto has a history of not representing her constituents. She’s filed a lawsuit to get a signed law declared unconstitutional. The law gives counties the option of hiring a private auditing firm instead of having her office audit the county. Otto’s office often doesn’t meet the deadline for these audits. Further, the OSA’s audits are more expensive than audits by private auditing firms.

In summation, Ms. Otto is anti-mining and wastes the taxpayers’ money to finish her sole responsibility (auditing) late. God help us if that’s the type of ineptitude we pick as our next governor.

When the American Mining Rights Association, aka AMRA, tried planning an event near Barstow, Calif., the BLM posted Route Closed signs on the trail event participants were scheduled to take. When “AMRA President Shannon Poe caught wind of the BLM scheme”, he called “the BLM office in Barstow and spoke to a guy by the name of Jeff Childers. And Childers, while he presented himself as the manager of the BLM office, was not … but he told me that they put the signs in the roads there and that the roads were now closed as part of the WEMO Plan.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Childers, a multitude of laws were against him. For instance, “the Mining Law of 1872 as amended” makes “blocking access to an active mining claim … illegal.” That isn’t the only statute that the BLM ignored. When Poe spoke with Childers, Poe “explained to Mr. Childers in a rather lengthy—probably a 45-minute call—that they cannot lock and block mining claim owners for a variety of reasons, the first being the Americans with Disabilities Act. Making a 70-year-old man with a fake knee and a fake hip pack in and walk two miles through the Mojave Desert to access his mining claim isn’t just immoral; it is illegal under the ADA as well as under the RS 2477 or Revised Statue 2477 law which states that all roads prior to 1976 must remain open.”

The night before the event, Katrina Symons, the “field manager of the Barstow District Office” of the BLM, met with Mr. Poe:

Symons agreed to meet Poe at his campsite at the Slash X Ranch on Friday, Oct. 13, preceding the outing. When Symons arrived about 5:30 p.m., she met with Poe and two senior members of the AMRA board of directors, Jere and Connie Clements, at a picnic table. “She had Jeff Childers with her and we talked for about 15 minutes about the desert tortoise and how we could protect them — just common sense stuff, and she had a big stack of pamphlets,” Poe said. According to Poe, Symons said the BLM would go a step further and check the roads the miners planned to use for tortoises on the Saturday morning of the outing. “I said, ‘Great. We’ll be out there at 9 o’clock. That’s fantastic! We’ll wait until you guys clear the road, and then we’ll go in.’”

Problem solved. Or, so he thought.

Then, in a shocking turn of events according to Poe, Symons threatened Poe with criminal prosecution, adding she would take photos of his vehicle and license plate once he had driven past the BLM road closure signs.
Poe then asked Symons to explain her sudden about-face change in position, he said. “She said: ‘I’m going to take picture of your truck, fill out an affidavit and send it to our law enforcement division for criminal prosecution,'” Poe said. “So, I said: ‘Last night, Katrina, you told me on the phone—and I have a witness—that you were going to give us unrestricted access,'” Poe said.

Predictably, Symons insists that there’s been a misunderstanding:

Federal misdirection?

“Well, I believe that Mr. Poe misunderstood,” said Symons. “Because, as I understand it, Mr. Poe had sent Mr. Childers a Utah Supreme Court ruling. Mr. Childers had informed him that it was basically a state ruling; it’s not federal—and that BLM will and does comply with the 1872 Mining Law and the associated mining regulations. So, I think that was more of a miscommunication or misunderstanding.” In a follow-up interview Dec. 1, Poe responded that the Utah case involving RS 2477 laws on rights-of-way and the Hicks case are two separate cases, and that the United States v. Steve A. Hicks case is obviously federal.

AMRA appears to know its rights based on federal law. It’s difficult to believe that they’d highlight a tangential state court ruling as the centerpiece of their argument. A state court case might or might not be applicable. The U.S. v. Steve Hicks isn’t just important. It’s on point, too.

Based on AMRA’s detailed understanding of the laws applicable to their mining claims, it’s difficult to believe the BLM’s statements. I’m inclined to believe AMRA’s statements because the BLM’s statements seem to be federal misdirection.

If Bill Hanna’s op-ed makes anything clear, it’s that Tina Smith likely will replace Al Franken as a shill for anti-mining environmentalists. Hanna wrote “Prettner-Solon was a strong advocate for issues so vital to the Range. Smith was a great big question mark. And Smith did little to allay my concerns during that initial meeting. She admitted to not knowing much about the proposed PolyMet and Twin Metals copper/nickel mining projects and had yet to even talk or meet with officials of those two companies. But she would be doing so, she assured. Not exactly a vote of confidence for a new era of mining on the Range. Smith has since been the dutiful lieutenant governor in line with Dayton on issues, while doing what she does best, raising political funds. So on mining, Smith was in step with Dayton, eventually supporting PolyMet in the footprint of the former LTV Mining plant near Aurora and Hoyt Lakes while giving a thumbs-down to the desired Twin Metals underground copper/nickel/strategic metals venture near Ely and Babbitt.”

It’s clear that Gov. Dayton’s intention in picking Smith was to stay away from picking a Range DFLer like Tony Sertich. Sertich would’ve been qualified (from a DFL policy standpoint) with the exception that he might’ve been too pro-mining for the Metrocrats’ liking.

But the Range needs a modern-day mining/logging/land use promoter in the Senate, not a reluctant follower or, worse yet, a reliable “no” vote. Smith connects well with Twin Cities Progressives who show off their penmanship when writing checks for liberal causes. She will definitely do the same on a national level.

But Progressives don’t like mining, even though they relish their computers, vehicles, medical devices and cell phones that are only made possible by minerals extracted from below the ground. It’s all so odd; don’t you dare mine, but do make sure we’ve got plenty of tools to connect with the Internet. And you better not mess with my Facebook Page abilities. It’s like believing milk just magically appears in stores in cartons, without the aid of cows.

Come Election Day, 2018, the Iron Range, as well as the rest of the Eighth District, Sixth District and Second District, better turn out in huge numbers. Further, they’d better vote for Karin Housley. Unlike Smith, Housley will represent the entire state.

She won’t pay lip service to the Range. She’s already speaking out in favor of the Range:

Compare that with this blather from Tina Smith:

It’s clear that Smith isn’t interested in the Iron Range or the construction industries. Smith is for these unions except when they want to mine ore, precious metals or want to build pipelines. When they want that, Smith is a less-than-enthusiastic supporter of those unions.

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This article certainly will outrage environmentalists. In it, it is reported that “Twin Metals Minnesota will get back its permits to explore for copper on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and continue working toward a copper mine southeast of Ely, under a decision Friday by the U.S. Interior Department. The move by the Trump administration reverses a decision to hold back the federal mineral leases that was made one year ago by the outgoing Obama administration.”

It doesn’t stop there, though. Shortly thereafter, it says “The new opinion from the Interior Department’s solicitor general concludes that the two leases Twin Metals held from the United States for years, passed on from other companies, granted the company a ‘non-discretionary right’ to another renewal and, therefore, the Bureau of Land Management did not have the discretion to deny Twin Metals’ lease renewal in 2016.”

If you thought that this decision might start a fight with environmental activists, your prediction would’ve been right:

“This shameful reversal by the Trump administration shows that big corporate money and special interest influence now rule again in Republican-controlled Washington,” Dayton said in a statement. “We will have to uncover why the financial interests of a large Chilean corporation, with a terrible environmental record, has trumped the need to protect Minnesota’s priceless Boundary Waters Canoe Area.”

This doesn’t have anything to do with special interests ‘ruling’ Washington, DC. It has everything to do with simple contract law. Once the contract is written and signed, its terms can’t be unilaterally undone unless the contract provides for that.

Doug Niemela, national campaign chair of the group Save the Boundary Waters Wilderness, said his group would challenge the decision in court. He called the Trump administration move “a big, fat Christmas gift for a giant foreign mining corporation willing to do anything to exploit the watershed of Minnesota’s crown jewel Wilderness. It runs contrary to fact, contrary to the law, and contrary to the views of Minnesota voters who love the Boundary Waters and rely on it for thousands of jobs, world-class hunting and fishing, and some of the cleanest water on Earth.”

The good news is that Niemala’s lawsuit will be filed in federal court, where there’s at least a semblance of sanity and clear thinking.

As for Niemala’s statement that Minnesota voters “rely on [the Boundary Waters Wilderness] for thousands of jobs, world-class hunting and fishing”, Craig Seliskar, a resident of Ely, MN, offers a differing opinion of how much tourism adds to the city’s economy, saying “The winter tourism season is starting extremely slow in Ely. It never has been comparable to the summer season. Proving once again that tourism alone CAN NOT hold a candle to the great economical impacts of mining!”

Seliskar notes that the streets of Ely are virtually empty less than a week before Christmas. That isn’t surprising since Ely, MN isn’t generally identified as a Christmas shopping hotspot. Then again, why should Ely residents suffer economically because people from 200+ miles away don’t want mining in places that they rarely see?

The Twin Metals mine is predicted to produce valuable minerals for at least 30 years, including an estimated 5.8 billion pounds of copper and 1.2 billion pounds of nickel along with platinum, palladium, gold and silver.

This fight will soon continue in federal court. At least in federal court, Twin Metals has a fair shot at winning.

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You’d better sit down to read this LTE because it features talking in circles. Let me explain.

It says “Although people sometimes paint our campaign as ‘anti-mining,’ we respect the need to maintain that industry in places where it cannot threaten the Boundary Waters.” The definition of anti is “a person who is opposed to a particular practice, party, policy, action, etc.” It’s fair to say that someone who opposes mining is anti-mining. Later in the LTE, it says “We truly believe those Minnesotans who want copper mining near the Boundary Waters are sincere when they say they believe it can be done safely and without risk. However, so are we when we say it cannot be done safely and that the risk is too great. Because of this, we will continue to do everything we can to protect this special place for future generations. We appreciate the position of our fellow Minnesotans who don’t agree with us, and we look forward to continuing this debate not as enemies but as members of a community.”

TRANSLATION: We’re opposed to mining but we don’t want to fight over it. Maintaining the anti-mining status quo is what we’re hoping to maintain.

Continuing the debate is a polite way of saying keeping mining interests stalemated. Taking no action is fine with the environmentalists. That’s precisely what they want. That’s because they win stalemates. This sentence is BS:

Everyone weighing in on sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters is doing so because they care about the future of our state and communities.

I don’t buy the notion that Becky Rom and Reid Carron “care about the future of our state and communities.” Carron is quoted as saying “Resentment is the primary driver of the pro-mining crowd here. They are resentful that other people have come here and been successful while they were sitting around waiting for a big mining company. They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock.”

That isn’t what respectful dialogue sounds like. That’s what know-it-all elitists sound like. This video shows how aggressive Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness are:

NMW is one of the organizations that Mr. Niemela works with. Save the Boundary Waters is another one of the organizations he coordinates with. Check out this handout to find out how hostile NMW and Save the Boundary Waters are. This LTE is nothing more than a political spin job. Niemela is worried that miners are turning against the DFL because the DFL passionately opposes mining. He’s likely worried that a Republican governor, working with GOP majorities in the House and Senate, might sign reform legislation that would support the mining community.

That’s likely Mr. Niemela’s worst nightmare.

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If I had to give this article a title, I’d give the title ‘You can’t beat something with nothing’. Another title I’d consider is ‘Republicans win while Democrats whine’. Katie Packer Beeson’s article is spot on.

It starts by saying “The Democrats seem to enjoy gloating about the hot mess that is the Republican Party these days. Former GOP presidents warning the president about the people he surrounds himself with; sitting Republican U.S. senators calling the president unstable and unqualified; and a former GOP speaker of the house saying “there is no Republican Party. The president isn’t a Republican.” And Democrats’ friends in the mainstream media have kindly created an echo chamber that makes them think that they are always right and the Republicans are a bunch of sexist, racist, whack jobs. So why aren’t they winning?”

It continued, saying “So when they lost the election, there was a reckoning. The leadership of the Democratic Party was drummed up and new, forward-looking leaders took the reins and offered an alternative to what they saw as the disaster of Donald Trump. Wait, no. That isn’t what happened. Instead, they re-elected Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the house. They elected Chuck Schumer as Senate majority [editor’s note: Schumer is minority leader] leader and completely sold out to the New York and California wings of the Democratic Party.”

Then there’s this:

Instead of talking about middle-class tax cuts, they talked about transgender bathroom access. Instead of talking about fixing Obamacare, which was crushing many in the middle class with high premiums and complicated doctor selections, they walked right into the trap of the alt-right and began tearing down Civil War statues.

Democrats still haven’t figured out how to talk to blue collar America. They’re experts at talking to college professors and progressive activists but they’re worthless at talking with factory workers, small businesses and tradesmen. It’s like those people are from another planet. (Perhaps, it’s the Democrats that are from a different planet?)

Look how paralyzed Hillary looks when confronted by a coal miner:

Hillary looked positively petrified. She looked like she would’ve rather been anywhere else in the world than at that roundtable.

What [Democrats] don’t seem to understand is that you can point out your opponent’s weaknesses all day long, but if you don’t provide an alternative, then people will stick with the status quo. I’ve spoken to dozens of Republican women in recent months who have grown disillusioned with the Republican Party, and when I ask why they don’t defect, the answer is always the same: “It’s no better over there.”

Until Democrats learn what animates blue collar workers, they should expect to lose lots of races, at least enough to keep them in the minority for a decade or more.

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If we know anything about Gov. Dayton, it’s that he’s a political opportunist. This article insists that Gov. Dayton has “shrewd political instincts”, too. J. Patrick Coolican’s article is nothing more than another Strib pro-Dayton puff piece.

It opens by saying “Since Gov. Mark Dayton came out in favor of a controversial proposal by PolyMet to mine copper, nickel and other precious metals in northeastern Minnesota, he and his allies have said that his support is guided by sound environmental and economic policy, not politics. But Dayton’s decision and its timing showed the shrewd political instincts, as well as the loyalty to the DFL Party, that have helped him win statewide office four times. By giving his public support to PolyMet he offered an olive branch to the Iron Range, knowing that he could take the political hit from environmentalists since he’s not running for re-election next year, and at the same time forge a temporary peace in the ongoing conflict.”

Actually, it’s guided by politics. Gov. Dayton hasn’t changed into a consistent supporter of the Range. He’s still opposed to the Twin Metals project. He’s still vehemently opposed to the Line 3 Pipeline project that would create approximately 3 times as many jobs as a typical end-of-session bonding bill would create.

This quote is telling:

“It diminishes PolyMet as an issue going forward. It’s one less flash point. That’s what a responsible steward of his party would do,” said Joe Radinovich, a former DFL state legislator who was U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s 2016 campaign manager.

It hasn’t had that effect whatsoever. It’s telling that Coolican said that Gov. Dayton “could take the political hit from environmentalists since he’s not running for re-election next year.” Doesn’t that mean that the candidates running to replace him can’t afford to get on the environmental activists’ bad side? Further, a page will get turned when the DFL picks their gubernatorial candidate. From that point forward, the Range will make their decision based on that candidate.

This paragraph is telling, too:

For some, it came too late. Dayton’s DFL has taken heavy losses in legislative districts in greater Minnesota, as Republicans have successfully tied them to Twin Cities environmentalists and other progressives at the expense of economic development in struggling communities.

Do the people in this video sound like they’re pro-mining?

Further, Coolican is right. Republicans have flipped rural Minnesota. The DFL have repeatedly proven that they’re anti-farmer, anti-labor. You can’t be anti-mining and pro-labor. You can’t ignore the farmers’ agenda and stay on the farmers’ good side.

This isn’t just about PolyMet. The Range wants to vote for someone who’ll always have their backs. The DFL is still the divided party, with a heavy anti-mining slant:

The DFL factions hit a breaking point recently when Reid Carron, well-known environmentalist in Ely, made disparaging remarks about miners in a Sunday New York Times Magazine story. “They want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies, not have to think about anything except punching a clock,” he said, before later apologizing.

It didn’t take long for Gov. Dayton suddenly react to the article:

So Dayton stepped on the fire. Just eight days after publication of the explosive story in the Times, the governor announced in an interview that he favors the PolyMet project if it meets permitting requirements and financial assurances that would protect Minnesota taxpayers in the event of a fiscal or environmental catastrophe.

What a coincidence! Immediately after environmental activists show their true colors, Gov. Dayton made his pro-mining announcement. If he was truly pro-mining, why hasn’t Gov. Dayton done anything to make the permitting process fair and transparent? If he’s truly pro-mining, why didn’t Gov. Dayton take on the environmental activists?

Perhaps, it’s because he’s a political opportunist who isn’t really pro-mining.

The editors at the Mesabi Daily News are being respectful of Gov. Dayton, though they aren’t letting him off the hook either. In this Our View Editorial, they simply ask what Gov. Dayton meant when he said he supports PolyMet.

It’s clear that the Mesabi Daily News welcomed the headline when they stated “Dayton’s support is more than welcome around the Iron Range, which has been through the ups and downs and review process with the project for more than a decade. Having the top DFLer in Minnesota give it the thumbs up cannot be understated.” Still, they aren’t excited about Gov. Dayton’s statement because they then wrote “But what does Dayton’s support mean to the project in real terms?”

The reason why they don’t trust him is stated clearly when they wrote “Every time PolyMet celebrates a new achievement on its way to breaking ground, a new lawsuit swoops in to try and delay it. Will Dayton help call off the dogs as the project’s bigger milestones enter the horizon?” That’s a totally fair question. It’s easy to say you support mining if you know that environmental activists will file another lawsuit that adds another delay to the project.

There’s a bigger point that’s important to make, too. Why should Rangers tolerate a regulatory system that’s this convoluted? How many studies are enough? How many hearings need to be held? Chip Cravaack tried getting this pushed through when he was in office. He was elected in 2010, the same election that gave us Gov. Dayton.

It’s clear that Gov. Dayton hasn’t jettisoned the environmentalists. He’s still siding with the environmentalists on Twin Metals and the Line 3 Pipeline project. While the lawsuits fly, PolyMet sits in limbo:

If they get through the permitting and the lawsuits, this will be part of PolyMet’s processing plant. So much for preserving pristine waters.