DULUTH — With claims by some mining critics that tourism is a more sustainable option than copper mining for northern Minnesota, and with the federal government mulling a moratorium on new mining near the Boundary Waters, industry officials have fired back with a new study that claims mining jobs still drive the regional economy.
Mining supporters say the study offers proof that mining and tourism can co-exist but that tourism doesn’t stand up to mining in terms of economic impact. Mining Minnesota, the copper-nickel industry trade group in Duluth, paid for and released a report Tuesday, April 18, by the Praxis Strategy Group that covered Cook,
Lake, St. Louis, Carlton, Koochiching and Itasca counties in northeastern Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin. The study found current iron ore mining and directly related industries such as railroads and shipping employ 5,140 people earning $419 million annually, when all of the region’s operations are open and running.
That compares to about 6,400 direct tourism jobs that total $116 million in earnings annually. The mining jobs average more than four times the annual pay of the average tourism job, the study found.
“There’s a significant difference in the return of different industries. You have much more of an economic impact from mining jobs than tourism jobs,” Mark Schill, Praxis vice president and the study’s author, said in an interview.
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