Prospects of a new mining age leave residents of Ely divided


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.

Next Up

Sergio Romo

Twins decline 2021 option on Sergio Romo

The Twins begin a potential overhaul in the bullpen.

high school football

'Scalpel approach' gives MN schools chance to keep playing sports

County infection rates are no longer the only thing that matters.


With the help of HVAC, Circus Juventas will host its first holiday shows

After months of canceled classes and shows, Circus Juventas is hosting its first ever holiday show, with safety precautions.

Cameron Dantzler

Vikings send Cameron Dantzler to COVID-19/reserve list

Dantzler's placement leaves the Vikings paper-thin at cornerback heading into Green Bay.

peterson fischbach

Elections 2020 preview: 7th Congressional District

Will Collin Peterson hang on for yet another term?

Zimmer and Hunter

Zimmer explains why he called Hunter's neck injury a 'tweak'

The coach also said Dalvin Cook should return from injury this week.


60 charged in magazine scam that netted $300M

It's being called the largest elder fraud scheme in the country.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 10.30.23 AM

The Star Tribune is shutting down City Pages

The free newspaper was bought by the Star Tribune in 2015.

billy's on grand

Coronavirus: Billy's on Grand will close for winter

The restaurant is among a growing list of eateries to close for the winter months.


New estimates of precious metals near Ely could surpass $100 billion

A mining company exploring copper and nickel deposits southeast of Ely will update its estimate later this month. Twin Metals has drilled more than 400 holes as it puts together a picture of the deposits. One industry expert tells MPR it's already clear there's enough precious metal to keep mines busy for 60 years. The debate over whether to issue environmental permits is in the early stages, though, and any mines are still years away.

Giant mine near Ely would be 'like an underground city'

Twin Metals wants to build the largest mine in Minnesota history -- a project on par with the biggest mines in the world -- to tap into what geologists say are enormous metal deposits. The Duluth News Tribune says it would be among the most extensive private enterprises in state history.

Sled dogs leave Duluth today to deliver mining petitions to governor

Protesters worried that sulfide mining could harm the Northland's environment gathered Sunday in a Duluth park, along with a dozen sled dogs waiting to carry 10,000 signatures to the state Capitol in St. Paul. Musher and former state representative Frank Moe will lead the dogs to the Twin Cities starting Monday.

St. Louis County backs copper mines after contentious Ely hearing

Critics warn new copper and nickel mines will harm northeastern Minnesota's land and water. But St. Louis County commissioners sided with those who say mining can be done well and bring economic prosperity.