Biden cancels lease renewals for proposed Minnesota mine | national news


The Biden administration on Wednesday reversed a decision by former President Donald Trump to renew mining rights leases for a Twin Metals copper-nickel mine project in northeast Minnesota.

Asset signed an order a month before the 2020 presidential election declaring a national emergency due to the country’s reliance on imported metals used to make computers, smartphones, batteries for electric cars and other items.

Biden’s cancellation of both leases follows an October decision by go ahead with a study this could result in a 20-year ban on mining upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area.

Twin Metals said in a statement that the decision was political and the company would not let it kill the project.

“The federal government’s reversal of stance on the mining leases that Twin Metals Minnesota and its predecessor companies had held for more than 50 years is disappointing, but not surprising given the series of actions the administration has taken in an attempt to close the door to copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota,” the company said. “We will challenge this attempt to stop our project and defend our valid existing mineral rights.

The fight over the Twin Metals mine project, as well as the PolyMet mine project, has always had political implications. Republicans have accused Democrats of sacrificing much-needed jobs in northern Minnesota, just as supply chain issues underscore the need for materials used in batteries and computer chips.

Republican U.S. Representative Pete Stauber, whose district includes the proposed mining area, tweeted that the move was “terrible news for Minnesota miners and our economy.”

“When will the Biden administration start defending our blue collar workers?” Stauber said.

US Democratic Representative Betty McCollum, who introduced a bill to block copper mining on federal lands in the Rainy River watershed, most of which is contained in the boundary waters, released a statement calling the decision a “victory for sound science and protecting a valuable natural resource and irreplaceable”.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said her department must be consistent in how it enforces lease terms and that lease renewals violate “applicable laws and regulations.”

Twin Metals, which is owned by Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, has submitted its formal mine plan to federal and state regulators in 2019. The company said its design would prevent any acidic drainage of sulfide ore and protect wilderness from pollution.

Environmental groups have disputed this claim and challenged lease renewals in class.

Collin O’Mara, current and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, applauded the move as a way to save critical habitat and protect jobs and economic benefits in boundary waters, which are known for camping, hiking, boating, fishing and hunting.

“Boundary waters are a natural treasure that is simply too important to risk – and the costs to people and wildlife are too high,” O’Mara said.

Twin Metals is unrelated to the proposed PolyMet Mining Corp project. near Babbitt and Hoyt lakes, which is currently mired in legal challenges and regulatory proceedings. PolyMet’s majority shareholder is the Swiss commodities giant Glencore.

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