U.S. Rep. Stauber Hears Iron Rangers’ Hopes to Bring Critical Minerals Mining to Region

In what he called a community conversation in Aurora, MN, the Congressman heard feedback which he plans to bring back to Washington D.C.

AURORA, Minn.- 8th District Congressman Pete Stauber stopped by the Aurora Community Center Monday for a town hall style meeting with Iron Rangers, joining them in wanting to bring critical minerals mining to the Iron Range.

“It’d be nice to see a new generation of people coming to the Iron Range to take on the next generation of mining,” said Ely resident Nancy McReady.

In what he called a community conversation, the Congressman heard feedback which he plans to bring back to Washington D.C. as the new Republican Leader on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

“We want to make sure we responsibly source these critical minerals and from the Trump Administration’s executive order, all indicators are that the Biden Administration is gonna follow through and make that commitment so that we can mine these critical minerals here,” said Stauber.

He says in addition to being responsibly sourced, it’ll bring a much needed boost to the region.

“Make sure that people understand that we have an opportunity here to bring $500-$600 million of economic activity right here to the Northland, and the Iron range every year for decades. They’re good paying jobs,” he said.

Meanwhile Iron Rangers like McReady say they want to see new mining jobs revitalize the economies of their cities and towns.

“There’s mining and then there’s all the supply chains as well. It’s the tires, it’s the oil, it’s the lubrication it’s, it’s an endless string of different supply that these mining companies need,” she said.

Especially after the pandemic, struggling families and businesses need a diverse economy, McReady said. “Tourism is great, but it’s not the be all to end all.”

“It’s about 100 day window of ‘make it or break it,’ and the last year with the COVID I mean we have business that may never open their doors again,” she said.

The hurt felt by the communities is hard to ignore, according to 7th District St. Louis County Commissioner Mike Jugovich. “Things are leaving. It’s a shell of itself, the Range as a whole feels it.”

Stauber says area mining projects like PolyMet and Twin Metals have faced new opposition from environmentalist groups, none of whom were present at the meeting Monday.

But Rangers like Jugovich said technologies are advanced now, where environmental impact can be monitored.”We believe that we can do this, the science, evidence that it can be done safely,” he said.

Stauber and Jugovich also touted the dangers of relying on copper, nickel, and other precious metals mined in foreign countries, claiming it can be harmful to the tools and items they’re used for in the U.S.

“All these great devices that we use on a daily basis — cell phones, watches, you name it — these materials will come from right here, Northeastern Minnesota, mined in a responsible way by people that are regulated by the regulatory agencies that we put our trust in,” said Commissioner Jugovich.

But above all, residents like McReady said their neighborhoods will suffer without the economic impact of mining. “We need a broader tax base, good paying jobs to support the businesses that we have and to maybe bring new business into our area.”

“Our communities are dying,” she said.

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