At least a dozen companies are exploring for copper, nickel, gold and other precious metals in a vast geological formation called the Duluth complex, which stretches from Tamarack, Minn., to the nearby Kawishiwi River that feeds the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
And with that comes the pains between preservation and innovation, a conflict that, as the Star Tribune notes, has taken hold in Ely.
The paper reports that he prospect of a massive new mining industry is igniting long-simmering tensions — between those who want the surge in prosperity it could bring and those who say it threatens the splendor of the North Woods and the tourism that relies on it.
Company officials say hard-rock mining can be done safely, says the Strib, while creating thousands of jobs and spawning a new industry that could someday dwarf the state’s taconite and frac sand mining operations.
Of course, the two factions have their passions.
“A viable community has to depend on more than tourism," one local tells the paper.
“Do you want the Superior National Forest … to be home to a mining-industrial complex?” asks another.
This summer, according to the Star Tribune, the first of the new mining companies will disclose how it plans to mine some 6,700 acres of national forest near Hoyt Lakes without polluting water that drains to Lake Superior.