Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Costs versus benefits of sulfide mining took center stage Tuesday at Clyde Iron Works in Duluth.
The "Clean Commerce Forum" focused on the environmental costs and the economic benefits of mining the Northland's rich deposits of copper–nickel.
"Those mines bring jobs but they also have diverse impacts on the economy and we want folks to understand that that picture is complicated," says Aaron Klemz, Communications Director at Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
Several companies have staked claims and are in the process of determining how much of the lucrative resource is buried in what we've come to know as the Duluth Complex.
Scientists say it is among the largest non–ferrous mineral deposit in the world.
"Mining produces considerable wealth as we sort of harvest the gift of nature and pull it out of the ground and the jobs associated with mining are among the highest paid blue collar jobs that exist," says economic researcher Dr. Thomas Power.
Roger Wedin, Director of Policy for the Duluth area Chamber of Commerce, says we should take advantage of the natural deposits in our own region to support our economy and put people to work.
"If they are going to be mined someplace and we can do it right and we can derive the economic benefit then I think it's incumbent upon us to understand that and if we can do it right to do it here in Minnesota," says Wedin.
While it would inject millions of dollars into the regional economy and create thousands of jobs, economists and environmentalists feel there is a downside.
"Mining is notorious for a boom and bust economy but even in between the booms and busts there is what economists have come to call flicker where there is very substantial fluctuations, as has been seen recently in the copper industry," says Power.
The goal of Tuesday's forum was to provide the best information available so people can make informed decisions going forward.
"What we think we should be focusing on is how do we attract people to communities rather than how do we build a place that is going to have jobs then attract people for the jobs," says Klemz.
The fight over the future of non–ferrous mining continues.
The luncheon event was sponsored by Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.