Letters to the Editor: Empire Mine closure impacts many

To the Journal Editor:

As a miner laid off due to the Empire Mine closing, I take issue with the story about Project Empire.

It was stated that the “exhaustion of iron ore and nickel in the near future is a reality”. There are large reserves of ore still available, it’s more of an economic will to invest in the local mines. There is a saying on the range — If you can’t grow it, it has to be mined. Iron ore and nickel are vital resources to not only rebuild our country’s infrastructure, but are also required for our national defense. The ore is here — not in Florida, Arkansas or California. It must come from here unless we intend to import it from overseas. While the state of Minnesota’s governor tirelessly fights for the mines and the mining families in their state, our own leaders do nothing to keep our largest economic cornerstone from fleeing the area. Has there been any incentives made to support, promote or expand our local mines? I haven’t seen or heard of any.

They were saying in the report that we need to diversify and expand our local resources. Tourism and cheap housing is not going to sustain our local economy or provide anything more than low-paying service jobs. We have many highly skilled workers here, but what good is that if there aren’t places hiring them? Project Empire has not done anything other than release press about themselves. Michigan Works! have spent months to help get many miners work or, ready to go back to school for training. It’s not an easy process and we run into roadblocks usually put there by the people that are supposed to be helping us. The saddest part of the report is where they seem to take pride in the fact that 57 skilled workers had to pack up their families and move to find employment in Minnesota. How on Earth is sending our people to another state considered a successful, positive thing? Even for those of us going into school, when we get finished, what is the likelihood of there being any meaningful jobs in our area to take advantage of?

The Empire Mine closing is the result of poor planning, lack of investment and indifference by the company, local and state officials. The effects ripple through our local economy, workers and their families.