Voices needed in mineral debate

Minnesotans need to speak up about the mining of minerals in the state.

by Editorial board

Minnesota has begun to lease mining rights on private land to companies in northern Minnesota. The owners of this private land are finding out the hard way that those minerals were reserved by the state more than a hundred years ago.

Earlier this month Gov. Mark Dayton and the state executive council postponed, for the second time, the mineral leases and began a six-month period in which the topic can be discussed by all Minnesotans. This is an opportunity for public involvement in a very important decision. More Minnesotans need to speak up, get involved and let the real issues come to light.

The revenue earned from mineral leases in Minnesota is earmarked to help fund public education. In most recent years the nearly $28 million annual income has covered almost 1 percent of state aid to primary and secondary education.

Economic growth in India and China has boosted global prices for raw materials like the deposits of copper, nickel and other metals in northeastern Minnesota which have now become very profitable to mine. However, under current laws, if the mining companies and individual landowners cannot agree on access terms, the law provides companies the rights to condemn the properties on which many of these owners live.

Far from a mere contest of private property rights versus the public good of education and state mineral reserves, the current debate needs input from every point of view. DaytonâÄôs council has given Minnesotans six months to openly discuss the issues and to try to reach what our state legislature seemingly never can: an agreement on the best course of action to take on a matter with only the best outcome for Minnesota as its goal.