Minnesota DNR stops environmental review of Twin Metals

Following the U.S. Department of the Interior's cancellation of federal mineral leases associated with the Twin Metals project, the DNR has stopped work on the state's environmental review.

File: Kawishiwi River in BWCAW
Canoeists paddle a quiet stretch of the Kawishiwi River near Ely on a day in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Sam Cook / 2002 file / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have stopped working on the state's environmental review of the proposed underground copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This came shortly after the Biden administration canceled two federal mineral leases for Twin Metals in late January.

"The DNR will close the administrative record and redirect staff resources to other high priority projects," the DNR said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The DNR also sent a letter outlining the next steps for closing out the project contracts.

Twin Metals issued a statement on the cancellation, stating its determination to continue to pursue the project.

"Twin Metals Minnesota is working to determine the next steps to continue to advance our underground copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals project," read the statement. "A pause on the environmental review process is necessary and appropriate while we defend our project and our mineral rights in court.


"We remain committed to the communities of northeast Minnesota and to advancing a modern mine that will produce the minerals necessary for combating climate change, strengthening domestic supply chains and creating American jobs."

This isn't the first time the leases have been rescinded. They were first issued in 1966 and later rescinded in the final days of the Obama administration in 2016. The Trump administration then reinstated the leases in 2017 and renewed them in 2018 and 2019.

The final renewal in 2019 is the main point of contention with the recent cancellation. The Department of the Interior wrote in January that the Trump administration violated Bureau of Land Management regulations and did not prepare an adequate analysis of the renewal.

The company does not want to pay "absurdly high" royalty fees to Mesabi Trust and is using more scrap metal in its electric arc furnaces.

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