Funny that the DNR would release that statement to the Star Tribune. Permits issued by the DNR for exploration exploded in 2015 also. Gold has been found in many of the areas, but the biggest vein so far is south between the communities of Tamarack and McGregor. If you look at the MN DNR website you can research the companies who are buying all the exploration permits and where they are exploring.
Not all the people affected are Union. Mesabi Nugget, Mining Resources, North Shore mining are all non-union facilities. I agree no extensions should be made, but please do some research before you blab non-sense.