Kennecott Eagle Project manager, Jon Cherry continues to maintain that Kennecott is primarily in our area to “create some jobs in Marquette County.” On Kennecott’s website, the company claims they are “providing for America’s needs” and that minerals from the project are those “many Michigan-based manufacturers rely on to drive our state’s economic engine.”
Cherry’s altruism is touching. However, Rio Tinto’s CEO, Tom Albanese claims the company is in our area chiefly to make more money for its foreign shareholders and that the metals are headed directly to China.
Rio Tinto Copper Group CEO, Bret Clayton says the Eagle Project “gives Rio Tinto a valuable opportunity to enter the market for nickel, a key input into stainless steel, demand for which is rising strongly led by the development of new infrastructure in developing economies.”
Just last week Albanese said he expects China, already the largest buyer of nickel, copper, aluminum, steel, coal and iron ore, to consume more than half of the world’s total mineral and metal resources within ten years.
A recent presentation by Anthony Loo, Rio Tinto China, shows that, from 2000 to 2006, Rio Tinto’s sales to China increased nearly 10-fold. Loo notes Rio Tinto’s commitment to investing in the Chinese economy, predicting the company will “dramatically expand China procurement in 2007 and 2008.”
Like the UP, Minnesota is set to become a resource colony for China’s burgeoning economy. Don Fosnacht, director for the Center for Applied Research and Technology Development said, "There are real opportunities for Minnesota to be a supplier of raw materials to China in both the ferrous and nonferrous areas."
Franconia Minerals, currently exploring under Birch Lake, near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, says demand comes primarily from India and China, which are
“moving rapidly from being Third World countries to developing a much larger middle class" and want products such as “refrigerators, cars, or gutters on houses."
The choice is ours: 1. Gift our minerals to Rio Tinto, its shareholders and China so we have several dozen local mining jobs and can pay DEQ administrative salaries or, 2. Protect our mineral wealth and the Yellow Dog Plains.