Mineral reserves in northeastern Minnesota’s beautiful Superior National Forest are labeled as “low-grade,” with the desired materials making up only .4 percent of the host rock. But even still, Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, headed by the Chilean businessman who owns the mansion that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner rent, has its sights set on the untouched reserves, Minnesota newspaper City Pages reports.
Precise details of the company’s plans are still uncertain, as Antofagasta wants to first obtain federal land leases before making any announcements.
But Canadian regulators in 2014 compelled Antofagasta to release information on its plans. Minnesota-based Twin Metals, owned by Antofagasta, intends to set up an underground operation to mine deposits near the small town of Ely. They want to build ore-crushing facilities, waste storage systems upstream from Lake Superior, and a messy jumble of rails, roads, and pipelines connecting all of their operations. And while Minnesota itself will not profit from the sale of minerals to primarily Chinese and Russian smelters, the company claims that there will be 2,000 jobs created over three decades.
But this comes at a huge cost.
They intend to build the mine in the Rainy River watershed, which leads into the beautiful Boundary Waters wilderness waterscape, the subject of much discussion for Minnesotans as the Trump administration has struck—and continues to attempt to strike—down environmental regulations protecting the area. The pits of copper ore waste creates sulfuric acid when it rains or snows. And large amounts of sulfuric acid have the ability to destroy entire ecosystems if the substance contaminates main waterways.