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Letter to the editor: Iron mines show that copper/nickel mining can be environmentally safe

Last week I was present at the talk Bill Carter gave at the Vermilion Community College here in Ely. Carter is a writer whose recently published book, "Boom, Bust, Boom" is an account of the industrial importance of copper and the harmful effects copper mining has had on the environment and the town of Bisbee, Ariz., where he and his family lived for a number of years.

While Carter spoke of visiting copper mining operations in Arizona, Indonesia and the proposed Pebble mine in Alaska, he failed to explain why copper/nickel mining would harm the Boundary Waters Canoe Area if the PolyMet and the Twin Metals mines were developed. He also offered no science-based facts to support his opposition to copper /nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota. His only bad moment occurred when a young lady accused the mining companies of trying to kill people. Credit goes to Carter for dismissing such nonsensical statements.

Carter seems to be a likeable guy and quite healthy, although he writes and spoke of his exposure to soil and dust containing copper and other harmful elements while he lived in Bisbee (he now resides in Flagstaff.) And hey, how can you dislike a writer who drinks whiskey and plays poker.

On behalf of our membership I am mailing Carter a CD that presents the history of Ely's Pioneer iron mine and a photograph of Miners Lake where today one can catch rainbow and brook trout which thrive in its waters. It is the only reminder that mining operations took place here until 1967. The water that constitutes Miners Lake is pure enough to support a trout fishery.

Lastly, I will be extending an invitation to Carter to return to Ely when PolyMet's permit has been issued and he can present a science-based argument explaining why the PolyMet copper mining operation will harm the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Oh wait- the water ways carrying water from the Embarrass and Partridge rivers empty into Lake Superior. Never mind.

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