Last August, the Mount Polley copper mine in British Columbia was the site of the “worst disaster in Canadian mining history.” A dam burst, spilling over a billion gallons of mine waste into pristine waters. A complete cleanup is impossible and a partial cleanup will cost up to $500 million.
After this disaster, independent experts were hired by the British Columbia government to study the Mount Polley disaster. They concluded that similar disasters are inevitable if we don’t move away from outdated technology that stores toxic mine waste with water.
Earlier this year, the Minnesota legislature held a hearing, where leaders agreed that we must prevent a Mount Polley-type disaster in Minnesota. Mining executives claim they would use the most up-to-date technology to show that sulfide mining can be done safely for the first time in history.
Unfortunately, despite these claims, PolyMet still plans to keep toxic mine waste by mixing it with millions of gallons of water and storing it behind a 40 year old dam that already leaks. That is outdated technology.
We believe it’s common sense that sulfide mining companies like PolyMet be required to design mines using the best technology for protecting the health of Minnesotans and our waters. PolyMet may still be too risky for Minnesota but at least this is one step Minnesota should take to protect ourselves.