State auditor wants more info on copper-nickel mining's effects

Minnesota needs to know more about the potential effects of copper-nickel mining in the state, State Auditor Rebecca Otto said Tuesday.

The state needs a more transparent discussion about this new kind of mining to make sure taxpayers aren't left cleaning up potential pollution, she told about 75 Ely residents.

Otto has taken on a more prominent role in the mining debate since she voted last month against approving 31 mineral exploration leases in northeast Minnesota.

"I need to make a point, I need to draw it to people's attention, whether we embark on this or not, that we understand what's at stake for us as a state, and the taxpayers of the state," Otto said.

The draft environmental review for PolyMet, the state's first proposed copper nickel mine, will be released Dec. 6.

Sue Schurke of Ely said she admires Otto for her stance. "I don't think there are many people in our state that are our policy makers that are willing to stick their necks out," she said.

Others, including Babbitt, Minn., Mayor Bernice Norregaard, were disappointed with her vote.

"She's talking about she's looking out for the taxpayers," Norregaard said. "I think the mining adds to our tax base."

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