by BILL HANNA
ST. PAUL — A recently formed group to advocate for copper/nickel/precious metals projects on the Iron Range has praised Minnesota’s two U.S. senators for introducing legislation supporting strategic metals.
The measure, which has bipartisan support, was introduced in the U.S. Senate and co-sponsored by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. It would bolster the nation’s supply of strategic metals and prevent future supply shortages of minerals needed for the defense, energy, electronics and medical industries.
The bill would direct the secretary of the Interior to develop a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and develop policies to guide the discovery, production and use of those mineral resources.
“We depend on these minerals in our daily lives,” said Nancy Norr, director of regional development for Minnesota Power and also chairwoman of Jobs for Minnesotans.
“Copper, nickel, platinum, palladium and gold are necessary for innovation and the green technologies we depend on. From wind energy to automobiles to the medical industry, these are the metals that will push our economy forward and bring prosperity to Minnesota businesses and employees.”
Modernizing strategic mineral policies and streamlining the permitting process, the bill would allow minerals in Minnesota to generate thousands of jobs and establish a more sustainable economy to Minnesota, Jobs for Minnesotans said in a news release.
Other co-sponsors for the bill are Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado and Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Dean Heller of Nevada, along with 11 of their colleagues.
Jobs for Minnesotans was founded in October 2012 by the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council representing 55,000 workers and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce representing 500,000 employees.
The coalition was created to educate and provide information about the direct and spin-off job creation that strategic metals mining would generate.
Northeastern Minnesota sits on the Duluth Complex, which is one of largest areas of copper/nickel/precious metals in the world.
Currently, the PolyMet project near Hoyt Lakes is in the Environmental Impact Statement phase, with a revised EIS ready for public comment.
The Twin Metals project near Ely and Babbitt is in the feasibility stage.