To the editor:
I read your article, "Report: Return of metal mining a threat to regional economy" in the recent Daily Mining Gazette. I also read the full report from F.O.L.K - all 109 pages of it.
It does bring up some valid concerns - however, it fails to support the idea that mining will automatically hurt the economy. It fails to show that mining will fail in its efforts to grow the local economy, and the report makes many assumptions regarding the impact of mining on tourism.
One significant factor regarding tourism is that much of the historical lure of the Keweenaw is tied to mining, and a resumption of mining will logically have a positive impact on that aspect of Keweenaw tourism.
It is absolutely necessary that any mining is done without negative environmental impact, but if that can be done, it doesn't need to hurt quality of life issues. Yes, mining is a boom/bust business for the most part, but wouldn't a decade of better prosperity be better than none at all?
Many of the statistics and information in the F.O.L.K. were superfluous - this report could have been half this length as been twice as good. There is no evidence that mining WILL impact negatively, if the environmental issues are effectively dealt with. The report accuses the mining companies of a "conspiracy of optimism." That is possibly true, but from the beginning I sensed in this report a conspiracy of pessimism, and a lack of understanding about a crucial fact: Tourism and recreation, while vital of the Keweenaw, have been UNABLE to grow the economy of this area in a significant way for nearly 50 years!
In order for the standard of living to improve we need industry which EXPORTS MATERIAL and IMPORTS MONEY. Tourism and recreation have not done that, and cannot support the population well enough. The F.O.L.K. report raises concerns, but fails to adequately support the idea that mining will be bad.
I am a staunch environmentalist - I would insist that it be done without negative environmental impact. If that can be done - mine, baby, mine. If done right, it can be very positive.