DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — People for and against a proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness disagree over whether it would be the answer to shoring up the area’s economy.

Twin Metals Minnesota wants to build an underground mine near Ely that the company says would create about 850 full-time jobs. The $2.8 billion project needs mineral leases from the U.S. Forest Service. The agency held a public hearing in Duluth Wednesday night.

READ MORE: Osakis Turns Out For Beloved Coach & Widower Who Leaves Behind 3 Boys

St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina said tourism in the area has been declining and isn’t sufficient to sustain jobs and the economy.

READ MORE: New Car Market Delays Drive Used Car Prices To Spike By Thousands

But River Point Resort owner Jane Koschak said the mine could harm an area that’s “a rare, precious gem.”

Wednesday’s session was part of a 30-day public comment period that ends next week.

MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 2 Seriously Injured In Head-On Collision Near Hinckley

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)