Top state officials Thursday declined to approve the sale of leases to explore for minerals in northeastern Minnesota, pending the results of a court case.
In the meeting of the executive board, Gov. Dayton told the Department of Natural Resources to respond better to citizen concerns.
About 170 landowners asked the DNR to conduct an environmental study on possible effects of the leases, which would allow for exploration of copper, nickel, and other valuable minerals. The DNR denied that petition, and the group is appealing in court.
Dayton said the DNR should adapt to the fact that there's much more public concern about copper-nickel mining than about iron mining.
"You've got to review all your rules, all your procedures, just bend over backwards on the side of notice, disclosure, being receptive to input," Dayton said. "Those are going to be scrutinized like never before, and that's the reality in which you're going to have to operate."
Dayton said he'll meet with DNR officials and citizens in the next couple of weeks.
The court decision is not expected for several months.