The Twin Metals mine would also contribute to the climate crisis

Jul 29, 2021
Jeremy Drucker

Today the Minnesota Reformer published a commentary by Save the Boundary Waters national chair and Ely resident Becky Rom on how the Twin Metals mine would exacerbate the climate crisis. Mines are energy hungry, with each requiring as much power as the entire city of Minneapolis, and a Twin Metals mine would be no different. According to MinnPost, 74 percent of Minnesota Power’s electricity is sold to six taconite mines and four paper and pulp mills. Twin Metals estimates it will generate 1.723 billion pounds of climate pollution each year and Twin Metals boosters like the rightwing Center for the American Experiment are pushing for coal generated electricity to power the mine. Compounding the damage such an enterprise would cost, the construction of the mine would destroy thousands of acres of boreal forest necessary to soak up CO2 and provide critical habitat for climate resilience. 


From the piece:

In addition to advocating the continued operation of the coal-fired plant, the [Center for the American Experiment] offers as one of its reasons the plant’s potential to supply electricity to a sulfide-ore copper mine that Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta/Twin Metals seeks to build in the Superior National Forest, upstream and on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. 

Based on the mining company’s government filing, this energy-hungry mine would cause greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation of 1.723 billion pounds of carbon dioxide per year. 

Sequestering that amount of carbon in nature over the period of a year would require on average 640,000 acres of U.S. forest.

Building the mine that Twin Metals proposes — processing plant, mine access shafts, ventilation stacks, roads, pipeline and power line corridors, waste rock and tailings piles — would destroy thousands of acres of carbon-sequestering forest and wetlands. 

A federal government report prepared for Congress concludes that boreal forest — the kind of forest that a Twin Metals mine would destroy — stores dramatically more carbon in its vegetation and soils than any other kind of terrestrial ecosystem. The amount is nearly twice as much per acre as in a tropical rainforest. Thus the destruction of thousands of acres of boreal forest landscape would be a huge step backward in greenhouse gas reduction. 

Moreover, the Superior National Forest land that Twin Metals seeks to despoil is not just any boreal forest. Scientific modeling by two major conservation organizations — The Nature Conservancy and The Wilderness Society — identifies the Quetico-Superior region, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and its watershed in the Superior National Forest, as some of the most important land in North America to help ward off the worst of the climate crisis.

This land is vital not only because of its function as a carbon sink, but also because it contains linked wildlife habitat and migration corridors of incalculable value.  

If we want to have a world that is survivable for humans and our fellow creatures, we must soundly reject the kind of thinking exemplified by the Center of the American Experiment’s deadly embrace of coal-generated power and environmental destruction.

You can read the full piece here.