What is Sulfide Mining?

Mining for metals in sulfide ores is mostly done in open pit mines, created by scraping off the surface soil and rocks and digging holes to reach the ore. Sulfide mining (also called non-ferrous mining, copper-nickel mining or sulfide-ore copper mining) has never been done before in Minnesota, but it has been done in other states and countries–leaving a string of environmental disasters and broken economies. That’s because sulfide mining produces toxic waste that irreversibly damages nearby water.

Never Been Done in Minnesota

Sulfide mining has never been done in Minnesota, and is much more dangerous than traditional iron mining. In fact, there is no example of sulfide mining being operated successfully anywhere that did not pollute nearby groundwater, lakes, and streams. And independent studies show pollution of surrounding lakes, rivers, and streams has occurred in one hundred percent of sulfide mines.

Taxpayers Left Holding the Bag

Sulfide mining has always left untold cleanup costs during and after mining operations. But, in many cases, mining companies have gone bankrupt, underestimated costs, or struck back room deals with politicians to avoid paying the full costs. The mining companies’ own documents show that even after a sulfide mining site is closed, the state will have to monitor and treat pollution at the site for hundreds of years in the future–at a cost to Minnesota taxpayers in hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.