Copper Country's Conundrum

Michigan’s western Upper Peninsula has long been a mining region. But when the final iron and copper mines closed in the late 20th century, people started leaving – and they never really had a reason to come back.

But now, copper mining is seeing a revival, partly because it’s one of the most important metals for renewable energy. The clean energy transition can’t happen without it. And the U.P. – it’s got a lot of copper.

But there’s something else the U.P. has too: some of the region’s most treasured natural spaces and some of the Great Lakes’ cleanest water.

So, when news broke of a new copper mine being built near the shores of Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and the North Country Trail – the reactions were passionate – both for and against it.

Could it resurrect a struggling rural economy, or will it destroy what makes the region so special?

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