State DNR suspends environmental review of controversial Twin Metals mine proposal

Aspen trees grown near a small gate.
This area of forest near the Kawishiwi River and Birch Lake and just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is where Twin Metals wants to build much of the infrastructure for its mining operations. Twin Metals is proposing to build an underground copper-nickel mine near Ely, Minn. and close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News 2019

About three weeks after President Joe Biden’s administration canceled two federal mineral leases near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it has stopped work on the state's environmental review of the proposed Twin Metals mine.

In a statement Tuesday the DNR said it will redirect staff resources to other high-priority projects.

A Twin Metals statement says a pause in the environmental review process is necessary and appropriate as it defends its project and mineral rights in court.

The company says it's spent about $530 million and more than a decade developing plans for an underground mine for copper and other metals near Ely, Minn., just south of the wilderness. The company has said it will challenge the lease cancellation.

The Department of the Interior is also proposing a 20-year moratorium on new mining projects in the area, spanning about 350 square miles within the watershed of the Boundary Waters, because of potential environmental damage to the wilderness.

Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters National Chair Becky Rom also released a statement, calling the decision to suspend the review the right one for Minnesota and the country.

“A Twin Metals mine next to the Boundary Waters would put at risk the pristine water, unique and fragile ecosystem, and thousands of jobs that depend on a thriving wilderness,” the statement continued.

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