On August 9 and August 10, U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN-R) hosted two Town Hall meetings in Deer River and Grand Portage. The emphasis of Cravaack’s meetings was to meet with his constituents to discuss the debit ceiling bill. Cravaack, to the consternation of the GOP establishment, voted against the compromise. His visit to the 8th District was to explain his view on taxes and to firm up support for his sagging reelection.
During his talk at Deer River, Cravaack said that we are in debt to China and that 29% of our debt is to China. He said that with just the interest from the debt we owe, China can build so many weapons and they can build a huge military with just the interest the U.S. pays them.
After Cravaack’s presentation on the debit bill and taxes, the meeting then opened up to questions by the audience. A Protect Our Manoomin (POM) supporter asked Cravaack the question - "Why is a Canadian copper mining company, Polymet, who is backed and partially owned by a Swiss mining conglomeration, Glencore, mining northeastern Minnesota for copper that will be shipped to China?"
Cravaack answer was jobs. Jobs that will be offered not only by Polymet, but other mining industries as well. In addition to Polymet, other mining companies that are lining up at the door for permits include Franconia Mineral Corp., Twin Metals.Duluth Metals, Cadero Resource Corp., and Teck Mining Co. Additionally, Kennecott plans to open copper-nickel mines in Crow Wing and Aitkin Counties, including a sulfur mine in Aitkin.
Cravaack then asked the audience if they knew what could be made with the copper and he explained that it's shipped to China and makes things for our military.
He went on to talk about how he has met with Polymet and they're trying to do the right thing and meet with the tribes and EPA and MPCA.
Cravaack then said: "If I had a nickel for every time I met with Polymet in Washington D.C." Such a statement reveals something we already know – that the Polymet lobby is not only active at our state capitol but also the Capitol in Washington.
At the Grand Portage Town Hall meeting, Cravaack talked about the debt, how we all need to fear China, and how we are basically bought and sold by the Chinese. During the question period, a POM supporter asked, "Why is a Canadian copper mining company, Polymet, who is backed by a Swiss multinational, Glencore, mining NE MN for copper that will in large part be shipped to China?"
Cravaack’s response was that China was “the enemy our children will be fighting."
He was then asked to cite one example of a non-polluting copper-nickel mine anywhere in the world. Although Cravaack was unable to provide an example, he did respond, "It's better to do it here where we have strict EPA requirements" and that Polymet has "made technological advances"
A man from Grand Portage asked Cravaack about changing the sulfite standard to accommodate mining. Cravaack responded "that is beyond my pay grade," and that "he believed in letting the scientists work it out."
For a lawmaker who was elected to protect Minnesota’s interest and the national interest, Cravaack’s contradictory answers regarding China are disturbing to say the least.
Granted, Cravaack is absolutely correct regarding America's economic debt to China. In "China's not doing us a favor" by Fareed Zakaria (CNN), Zakaria quotes a Hong Kong newspaper that reported Washington owes every single Chinese citizen 5,700 Yuan - about 900 U.S. dollars.
Zakaria furthers states: "...in terms of who is paying whom, data from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the U.S. pays out some 74 million dollars to China in interest payments on debt every day. We did the math. That means Washington is paying Beijing 833 dollars every second."
Beyond the debt, a situation that Zakaria refers to as a economic cold war, there is the question of the role copper plays on a world stage in which many analysts project China emerging as a dominant superpower.
Understandably, for Cravaack, and many other lawmakers, it’s all about supporting industries that will provide jobs for constituents. However, Cravaack has failed to connect the dots in assessing the alarming potential that exports of copper and other nonferrous metals to China might mean. Therefore, a few simple, well-known facts are in order.
Polymet and Red Gold
In her article, “Popping the Polymet Propaganda Pill,” Elanne Palcich writes:
ARE THESE METALS CRITICAL FOR OUR OWN NEEDS?
The truth is that the demand for copper, nickel, and a myriad of other metals is coming from China. As China becomes an industrial nation, it is moving its population from rural to urban areas. These metals are needed for residential pipes and wiring and factory construction and processes. In addition China is aggressively building infrastructure and transportation systems to accommodate 1.4 billion people as it seeks to become the next great industrial power.
China is accepting metals in semi-processed form, such as would be produced by the hydrometallurgical process proposed by PolyMet. China is currently stockpiling all such metals.
That indeed China is stockpiling copper is verified by Shiv Hari, a commodities analyst: “China has been stockpiling [copper] since last November .”
In turn, according to Jeremy Gray, global head of resources at Standard Chartered PLC , “Copper is red gold. We’re on the verge of the biggest commodities bull market we have ever seen.”
China’s quest for copper is expected to triple its consumption to 20 million metric tons by 2020. This will account of 49% of world copper sales.
According to Mineweb, in 2010, China’s imports of copper concentrate increased to 6.47 million metric tons and copper scrap imports increased to 4.36 million metric tons. In 2007, China consumed of 45.9% of American copper.
The leading copper exporters to China include Chile, Zambia, Peru, the U.S., the Congo, Russia, Pakistan, Taiwan, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, the Philippines, Poland, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, and Mongolia. China’s recent investment of copper mines in Argentina will pave the way for Argentina to emerge as a player in the Chinese export market.
Urbanization is at the crux of China’s expansion of copper. Over the next 15 years, the country will need 50,000 skyscrapers, 170 mass transit systems, and urban housing for 350 million people, according to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute.
Copper has many uses. However, electronics account for three quarters of copper use. Electrical uses of copper include power transmission and generation, building wiring, telecommunication, computers, and electrical and electronic products, transporting water and gas.
There is another use of copper that is overlooked – military uses. Elizabeth Young writes: “Industries that use copper the most include untold military uses where the government is not likely to reveal all of its secret or strategic uses and include industrial proprietary or patented processes where the proportion and types of copper products is likely to be kept secret.”
The Copper Development Association, Inc. lists 47 military specifications that employ copper.
One example of military use of copper is development of micro-detonators. According to Michael Beggans, a scientist in the Energetics Technology Department of the Indian Head Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center: "Today, everything is becoming smaller, consuming less power and offering more functionality,"
Beggans added, "When you hear that a weapon is 'smart,' it's really all about the fuze [i.e., the overall device]. The fuze is 'smart' in that it knows the exact environment that the weapon needs to be in, and detonates it at the right time. The MEMS fuze would provide 'smart' functionality in medium-caliber and sub-munitions, improving results and reducing collateral damage."
Connecting the Dots
In light of China’s consumption of copper and the uses of copper including military uses, Cravaack’s remarks highlight an ignorance of the potentialities to which China will apply its stockpile of copper.
At Deer River, Cravaack said: “With just the interest from the debt we owe, China can build so many weapons and they can build a huge military with just the interest the U.S. pays them.”
If this is so, then why does Cravaack support Polymet who will then sell the red gold to the Chinese?
At Grand Portage, Cravaack said that China was “the enemy our children will be fighting.”
This statement poses an interesting question, one that Cravaack should consider. Because if China is the enemy, then what role will Cravaack play in providing China with red gold that, in turn, will undoubtedly be used to stockpile China’s munitions, provide the cartridge shells for bullets, provide the deadly copper hoods for RPG’s, provide the means of manufacturing micro-detonators, and that will fine-tune computers and computer components to pin-point Chinese nuclear weapons?
Nonferrous mining is about much more that the destruction of our manoomin stands and our environment. Because there is a darker truth that delves under Cravaack’s platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. And the question posted at the beginning of this article is a question that Minnesota voters should be asking candidates at election time. It's time for people to start connecting the dots.
Mii sa go