Biden administration orders two-year study on Minnesota metals mine

Biden administration orders two-year study on Minnesota metals mine
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The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a two-year study of the environmental impact of a proposed Minnesota copper-nickel mine, potentially scuttling the project.

In an application with the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service called for a full study of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The proposed Twin Metals mine in northeastern Minnesota would be located in the watershed that joins Boundary Waters.

The Wednesday order would bar new leasing or prospecting permits for mining upstream of the wilderness area but would not affect private lands or existing rights. Depending on the findings, it could bar mining in the affected area for up to 20 years.

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“A place like the Boundary Waters should be enjoyed by and protected for everyone, not only today but for future generations,” Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandNevada governor apologizes for state's role in indigenous schools The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden to announce increased measures for omicron The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE said in a statement. “Today the Biden Administration is taking an important and sensible step to ensure that we have all the science and the public input necessary to make informed decisions about how mining activities may impact this special place.”

In a statement, Twin Metals said it was “deeply disappointed” by the announcement and that it was “working to determine the best path forward to continue advancing our proposed world-class underground copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals mine.”

Becky Rom, national chairwoman of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, called the announcement a “significant win” for the wilderness area.

"You don't allow America's most toxic industry next to America’s most popular Wilderness," Rom said in a statement. "This is a great first step on the pathway to permanent protection. The appropriate next step for the administration is to revoke the two Twin Metals leases that the Trump administration unlawfully reinstated."

The proposed mine is already the subject of a 2020 lawsuit from local and national environmental groups. In it, they dispute Twin Metals’s assurances that the mine would not lead to any acid drainage.

That legal challenge is to the mine project’s existing leases, which are unaffected by Wednesday’s announcement.