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In a controversy that has roiled this Iron Range hamlet for decades, the Biden administration’s decision to revoke the federal mining licenses for the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine marked another dramatic turn. According to the Interior Department, the Trump administration revived the Antofagasta-owned Twin Metals Minnesota mining licenses without the required review.
This decision by the Biden administration has disappointed Twin Metals, and they intend to dispute it. We are committed to delivering much-needed economic prosperity to the area while also providing the chance to properly exploit the essential minerals required by our worldwide efforts to battle climate change. Copper is utilized extensively in renewable energy applications, including cabling, wiring, and more.
Boundary Waters estimated four billion tons of copper and nickel ore
In the Superior National Forest, in the BWCA, and roughly seven miles east of Ely, those leases are essential to Twin Metals’ objectives. To get to the lucrative subsurface minerals, the firm needs them. Thousands of species, including the gray wolf and the Canada lynx, have a haven in the Boundary Waters, a vast area of protected lakes and woods near the Canadian border. However, mining corporations have long shown interest in the region due to the estimated four billion tons of copper and nickel ore buried under the surface. It is one of the most significant untapped mineral reserves on the planet.
All Americans are entitled to know that the Interior Department takes its stewardship of the nation’s public lands and waterways seriously. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated in a statement that “we must be consistent in how we enforce lease conditions to guarantee that no lessee gets preferential treatment.” A thorough legal assessment revealed that the leases had been wrongfully extended in contravention of the relevant legislation and regulations; thus, we are canceling them. “
According to Twin Metals, this is “disappointing but not surprising given the administration’s previous attempts to shut down copper-nickel mining in northeast Minnesota.” Mineral leases have been a contentious issue for three governments. The Interior Department’s decision is only the latest phase.
Obama administration denied the mining licenses in 2016
Denial of renewal of Twin Metals’ two 1966 leases by the Obama administration in December 2016 was based on a Department of Interior legal opinion. However, a legal opinion from the Trump administration said that the government did not have the authority to reject Twin Metals’ leases the following year. The leases were later restored by the Bureau of Land Management, who also extended them ten years. In 2019, Twin Metals officially submitted its mining intentions to state and federal officials, kicking off a multi-year environmental evaluation and permitting process.
According to this declaration from the Biden administration after a new judicial ruling issued on Wednesday overturning Trump administration moves, these plans are now in significant jeopardy. Federal action “raises serious issues about the viability of Twin Metals’ project as envisioned,” the Minnesota DNR stated in a statement. According to the agency, it will consider the implications for the state.
They have argued that hundreds of high-paying jobs would be created, and billions of dollars would be pumped into the local economy if the mine is allowed to proceed. According to opponents of the project, the Boundary Waters and the recreation-based economy they sustain would be destroyed.
Controversial Twin Metals supporters expressed their fury and frustration at its decision to abandon its lease. A 20-year prohibition on new copper-nickel mining plans in the watershed of the Boundary Waters has also been recommended by the Biden administration. Authorities claim that mining in the Boundary Waters creates a significant contamination danger.
Supporters of mining argue that this attempt, along with the revocation of the Twin Metals lease, prevents the development of projects that may offer essential metals required for wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries to be developed.