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Photo, Brian O’Keefe

You have one chance to save a national treasure.

The wilderness that supports world-class remote angling and hunting adventures for sportsmen and women like you is threatened by sulfide-ore copper mining. This toxic mining practice would harm productive habitats that support fish and game.

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The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is America’s most visited Wilderness area. It contains more than 1 million acres of pristine water and unspoiled woodlands, home to fish and wildlife. Along with the Superior National Forest, the BWCA contains 20 percent of all the fresh water in the entire National Forest System. That prized water is what supports the walleye, bass and pike that draw anglers to the area.

Sulfide-ore copper mining within the Boundary Waters watershed is imminent. Mineral leases have been granted. Industrial proposals are underway.

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Pollution from these sulfide-ore copper mines will flow directly into the Boundary Waters. Even conservative models of pollution show that waterways would carry contaminants into the Wilderness. A single mine in this watershed could pollute the areas where you fish or hunt for at least 500 years.

This is more than just one mine. The current gap in protection on the edge of the Wilderness could allow mining companies to turn the area surrounding the Boundary Waters into an industrial mining district, with mines, mills, roads, rail lines and toxic tailing piles.

What's at stake?

Photo, Brian O’Keefe

Fish and Game Habitat

The pristine waters and unspoiled forests of the Boundary Waters provide critical habitat for wildlife, including moose, bear, deer, walleye, bass, trout, pike, grouse, waterfowl and more.

Photo, Layne Kennedy

Passion for the Outdoors

The Boundary Waters is where generations of children developed a lifelong love of nature that brought them back as adults. Action is needed to ensure future generations can enjoy the pristine waters, world-renowned angling and incomparable scenery that so many have come to know and cherish.

Photo, Becca Dilley Photography

A Thriving Economy

The Boundary Waters is the economic lifeblood of northeastern Minnesota's lucrative outdoor recreation and tourism industry. Tourism in northeastern Minnesota generates $852 million per year in sales revenue and supports 18,000 jobs that provide a foundation for local families and businesses.

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Nicholas A. Tonelli, Flickr

Too Great a Risk

Sulfide-ore copper mining is much more toxic than Minnesota’s taconite mining and has never been done before in Minnesota. Sulfide-ore copper mining produces giant waste piles that, when exposed to air and water, leach sulfuric acid, heavy metals and sulfates. Sulfide-ore copper mines pollute groundwater, rivers and lakes.

In the history of sulfide-ore copper mining, pollution has never been avoided.

Hard rock mining, most of which is sulfide-ore mining, contributes to more Superfund sites than any other activity.

The Impact

Photo, Brian O’Keefe

Harmful to Aquatic Food Chain

Acid mine drainage, heavy metals and associated pollutants from sulfide-ore mines harm microorganisms, aquatic plants and fish. Acid mine drainage also increases the acidity of waters. As acidity increases, we know certain species will be unable to survive. Minnows are impacted first, followed by walleye, northerns, smallmouth bass, trout and loons.

Photo, Becca Dilley Photography

Increased Mercury in People & Fish

Minnesotans already face fish consumption advisories from mercury contamination around the state. Sulfide-ore copper mining near the Boundary Waters would expose local residents and visitors alike to additional sources of mercury, increasing the risk of elevated blood mercury above the safe limit.

Photo, Jim Brandenburg

Forests & Game Species Suffer

The forests of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness are deeply interconnected with the streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater. Mining activities would disrupt this relationship, resulting in the loss of forest area and unique opportunities for hunting in remote areas.

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Mount Polley Tailings Pond Breach—Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press

History Has Shown What Can Be Lost

The mining industry has a long history of major infrastructure failures with catastrophic environmental impacts. Even state-of-the-art mines are at risk for this level of disaster. In August 2014, the Mount Polley copper and gold mine in British Columbia had a tailings dam breach that released 4.5 million cubic meters of toxic slurry into a lake and river system that was a priceless salmon spawning area. At about the same time, a mine in Mexico spilled 40,000 cubic meters of copper sulfate acid solution into two rivers, wiping out the water supply for a vast rural area that depended on the river water for domestic use and agriculture.
Fish and wildlife were devastated, and the list of recent disasters goes on.

Don't risk this amazing destination for fishing, hunting and camping.

Sulfide-ore copper mining will hurt the Boundary Waters unless you take action to stop it.

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