Executive Council Considers DNR Mineral Leases Request

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At 3 p.m. today Minnesota’s Executive Council, including Governor Mark Dayton, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and other elected officials, will meet to consider the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ request to approve issuance of 77 non-ferrous metallic minerals leases. Meanwhile, the Star Tribune reports that private property owners from the Ely area will make a final appeal to stop exploration for copper on their pristine lands.

Here’s more from the Star Tribune story:

Residents and cabin owners in what may become a new copper mining district near Ely say they were shocked that the state’s century-old minerals law seems skewed to favor mining companies over property owners. It was also their introduction to a side of the Department of Natural Resources that they had never seen — the one with a mission to promote mining.

“In a 21st-century democracy, it seems very 19th-century,” said Todd Ronning, a woodcarver who owns forested land near Two Harbors and a summer cabin on Sand Lake near Isabella. “I’m surprised to see that it’s my own state that seems to be the Goliath here.”

But officials say they are only following the law, which gives the state rights to the copper, nickel and other valuable ore under some private property. It’s all part of a century-old legal framework in Minnesota that has provided millions of dollars in mining-lease revenue for the state’s public schools. Any surveying or exploratory work by mining companies, they add, must be negotiated with property owners.

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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