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Lake County township says no thanks to copper mining

A northern Lake County township board voted this week for a resolution seeking a halt to mining exploration efforts in the area.

The three-member Stony River Township board of supervisors voted unanimously for the resolution, which calls for the state of Minnesota to enact a metallic sulfide mining moratorium law, and, until such a moratorium is enacted, to deny all requests for permits to prospect or develop metallic sulfide mines in the township.

The resolution, approved Wednesday night and believed to be the first of its kind by any town board in the region, has no formal power, and it's not clear if state or federal officials have seen it.

"It became clear that our representatives at the county and state level are ignoring our concerns. So we took it to the local level and we are making a statement to the rest of the state," Jane Kashock, a mining opponent and Stony River resident, told the News Tribune.

She said dozens of people petitioned the board for the action.

According to a statement, the resolution "recognized the community's character as a rural lake district, not a mining district, and acknowledged the extreme negative impacts exploratory drilling and new sulfide ore mines could bring to the township.''

"We've got clean water and a healthy forest and we went to keep it that way," stated Art Ernest, Stony River Township supervisor, in a statement.

Frank Ongaro, executive director of Mining Minnesota, said there was "really nothing to comment on."

"It's one township. Others have passed resolutions of support," Ongaro said.

Stony River Township, which includes the tiny community of Isabella, has about 370 residents. It's become a focal point of exploration efforts by mining companies to pinpoint copper deposits that are big enough and easy enough to mine. The resolution adds to the building uproar among some landowners who are discovering that they don't own the mineral rights under their land, and that state and federal agencies are auctioning off those mineral rights to the highest bidder.

Ron Brodigan, who has complained about the state's mineral lease process and who owns land over state mineral rights that mining companies want to explore, is on the town board.