Latest Mining Catastrophe Has Direct Minnesota Ties

MINNEAPOLIS – Video of the catastrophic damage caused by an August 4th collapse of a tailings dam at the Mount Polley copper mine in British Columbia should concern Minnesotans as the state considers a string of copper mine proposals. Over 1.3 billion gallons of toxic waste escaped the mine site over the weekend.

The company that designed, engineered, and oversaw the construction of the Mount Polley tailings dam, Knight Piesold, also provided the Department of Natural Resources and PolyMet with technical advice on the current proposal for the PolyMet project. In fact, Knight Piesold Vice President Bryan Ulrich is listed as a Geotechnical Engineer on the DNR’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the PolyMet project.

A few miles up the road, the Twin Metals mining project has employed the engineering firm URS. Many Minnesotans remember them as the contractor hired to evaluate the fatigue of the 35W bridge before it collapsed, and the designer of the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge over Hiawatha Avenue, which was forced to close after a design malfunction a year and a half after it opened.

“Minnesotans are being asked to put a lot of faith in these companies that their projects won’t endanger the mine’s workers or the surrounding environment,” said Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. “It’s deeply disturbing that the same firm that designed the collapsed tailings dam was hired by PolyMet and the Minnesota DNR. We’re being asked to trust these companies with Minnesota’s water.”

MORE INFO: For additional resources or to set up an interview with a member of the Mining Truth coalition, please contact Nate Dybvig at nate@conservationminnesota.org or 651.230.3018, or Aaron Klemz at aaron@friends-bwca.org or 612-332-9630.