Who’s investing in copper-nickel mining on the Range? – by Trisha Volpe (Kare 11 News.com – November 21, 2013)

http://www.kare11.com/default.aspx [Minneapolis-St. Paul]

NEW ORLEANS — As the autumn sun starts to peek over the horizon, a blazing mix of orange, yellow and red, Pete Gerica starts up his fishing boat as he’s done nearly every morning for decades. Gerica’s fishing roots run as deep as the water off the Louisiana coast. A good catch is his southern comfort.

“I’ve been actually on this water here for the better part of 55 years,” Gerica says about the Bayou Sauvage, which is located just east of New Orleans. “It’s kind of like a gambler. You get an adrenaline rush when you make good.”

Gerica is a 4th generation shrimper, an industry as important to the Gulf Coast as oil production in the nearby Gulf of Mexico. He brought KARE 11 trawling in the bayou, but the catch isn’t what it used to be.

“That’s nowhere near enough and nowhere near the right size,” Gerica says after he pulls up a test net and measures the few shrimp he caught.

Gerica and his family barely survived Hurricane Katrina and then the next disaster hit. In 2010, 11 people were killed when an off shore BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Millions of barrels of oil poured into the Gulf for weeks.

Despite receiving some settlement money, many Gulf Coast fishermen blame BP for decimating their businesses. Gerica says oil killed the nutrients fish feed on and the catch has been less and less every year since the oil spill.

“This area here, you should be able to come out at night and catch anywhere between three and 600 pounds easy at night. And there ain’t nobody even working at night here,” Gerica says.

So what does the Louisiana shrimp industry and the effects of the BP oil spill have to have to do with copper nickel mining in northern Minnesota?

Tony Hayward was running BP at the time of the oil spill. Hayward was criticized for his botched handling of the environmental disaster and attending a yacht race while oil polluted the Gulf, announcing that he wanted his “life back”.

Now, Hayward is with a new company, one involved in what could be Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine and that worries opponents.

“I think it’s important that people understand who we are doing business with,” says Carron, who is with the group Sustainable Ely, one of many groups leading the charge against proposed copper-nickel mining projects in northern Minnesota.

Opponents worry about potential effects of precious metals mining on the environment and the tourism industry. Supporters say the Iron Range has a long and proud tradition of mining and should welcome this next generation of mining and the jobs and economic impact it will bring.
Tony Hayward’s new company is Swiss international commodities and mining giant GlencoreXstrata. Hayward is interim chairman of Glencore’s Board of Directors.

Glencore has invested millions in Polymet, a Canadian company with mineral rights in the large Iron Range copper nickel deposit. If allowed, Polymet’s mine would be built with the help of money and mining expertise from Glencore, Polymet’s largest investor according to documents filed with Canadian securities regulators.

Critics worry that as a top Glencore executive, Tony Hayward’s environmental record with the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster could spill over into Minnesota’s pristine waterways.

“Is the fact that they may hire Tony Hayward going to cause the tailings piles or the waste rock piles to collapse and cause the pollution to occur? No. That fact alone won’t. But it is indicative of a corporate culture,” Carron says.

Business analyst and investor relations expert Bob Kleiber says it is very unlikely Hayward has any direct input in Polymet’s business decisions, but Glencore might.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.kare11.com/news/extras/article/1046676/26/Whos-investing-in-copper-nickel-mining-on-the-Range

 

 

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