As with any complex issue, there are multiple reasons people have the perspectives they do. Our childhood backgrounds, economic situations, and general life priorities differ. People who align with each other on many issues can find their values vary significantly on others.

That is the story surrounding proposed mining projects in northern Minnesota. For many, it is confusing why mining would be allowed so close to the watersheds that impact tourism dollars of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the safety of wild rice and fish, and the places where toxicity levels already disproportionately affect children in the Lake Superior region

For others, there are economic arguments in favor of mining that make sense. Those same arguments seem unconvincing to others
Some Minnesotans are hopeful that local jobs could be created for long- term mining employment, and that environmental regulations could be enacted for safekeeping from pollution. Still others point out that the mining track record has historically been poor in both instances, and there is no reason to trust it will improve now.

Why Is Mining in Northern Minnesota an Issue in 2018?

The Duluth Complex is described by PolyMet Mining Inc. as one of the largest undeveloped mineral deposits in the world, with more than 4 billion tons of copper, nickel, and precious metals.

Politically, some are in favor of the mining jobs that can be created in a struggling economic region. With voter support needed in November, one concern is that upsetting constituents who need jobs could reduce votes for candidates that challenge mining efforts.

In a community that has traditionally been Democratic, yet saw a large number of votes preferring the Republican Presidential candidate in 2016, the gap between many job-seeking voters and environment-oriented voters is a contentious one

Why Is This a Woman’s Issue?

Traditionally, mining has been exclusively the domain of men: the decision-making around its use, the jobs, and the disposal of toxic material. Today, however, there are more women involved in leadership and advocacy. We talked to a few of them — some quoted and some for background — to get a better understanding of factors involved in this contentious issue.

There are concerns that the mining issue could impact important November mid-term election results.

Our mission at Minnesota Women’s Press is to help women inform each other in deeper ways. As we will explore at our next MWP Conversation, October 16, about “Using Voice & Vote,” how do we make significant systemic change about complex issues, and communicate with fellow voters about controversial topics.

Step 1 is here, in our pages. Connect about the reasons lawmakers, fellow voters, and activists have the differing viewpoints that they do. It might make it easier to have a conversation about what the solutions might be.

Step 2 happens with you. Are you a woman with a personal story to share with voters and candidates about how the mining issue impacts you? Send to

We’ll be updating our website and sharing stories on social media platforms at #MWPMining.

Join our community!