Just as election season gets into full swing this fall, a Twin Cities think tank will wade into the fierce economic debate about copper-nickel mining in northern Minnesota with a statewide advertising campaign that promotes the potential of the new industry.
John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment in Golden Valley, said the $270,000 campaign announced Monday will start after Labor Day. It will include highway billboards, TV and radio spots, YouTube videos and other social media ads that highlight the billions in economic benefits the state will reap from mining, according to a new report from the center.
“If voters understand the huge benefit of mining, they will want to see it happen,” Hinderaker said. “And an election is a good time to be talking about it.”
PolyMet Mining Corp., a publicly held Canadian company, is awaiting final approval from state regulators on a permit for an open-pit mine and processing facility near Hoyt Lakes and the St. Louis River. Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of the Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, is developing an underground mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely.
Together, they have ignited the biggest and longest-running environmental controversy the state has seen in decades. Unlike the taconite industry, copper-nickel mining carries much greater environmental threats because runoff from mine and processing waste can produce an acid that leaches heavy metals from rock.
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