The west part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, once thriving thanks to iron and copper mining, experienced economic decline when those mines closed in the late 20th century, leading to depopulation. However, with an increased demand for copper due to its key role in renewable energy technologies, there is a potential for mining to revive there.

The Upper Peninsula is rich in copper reserves, critical for the transition to clean energy. Yet, it is also home to cherished natural spaces and some of the cleanest water of the Great Lakes. The proposal of a new copper mine near Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, and the North Country Trail has received conflicting reactions from the community—some welcoming the economic opportunities it could bring, while others fearing environmental degradation and the loss of the region's natural beauty.

Reporter Ellie Katz spoke with Adam Simon on the Points North podcast, who explained the need for more copper production to support a transition to renewable energy and reduce emissions. 

“New Delhi, India hit 126 degrees. The ocean off of Miami, Florida last year hit 100 degrees. I mean, that’s the Atlantic Ocean at a temperature that we associate with hot tubs,” said Adam. “If we don’t mine these metals, we will not reduce our emissions, we just can’t.”

Read the full article in the Great Lakes Now here.