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Interior secretary Deb Haaland open to visiting region affected by proposed Twin Metals mine

During a Friday, May 6, visit to St. Paul, Haaland said she couldn’t disclose if her agency would allow the proposed mine to move forward after the Interior canceled two mineral leases for Twin

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Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland speaks at an event in St. Paul on Friday, May 6, 2022.
Alex Derosier / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — U.S. Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland said she is open to visiting northeast Minnesota to learn more about a controversial proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

During a Friday, May 6, visit to St. Paul to announce nearly $9 million in federal funding for urban parks in Minnesota, Haaland said she couldn’t disclose whether there is any way her agency would allow the proposed mine to move forward.

The Interior Department in January canceled two mineral leases for Twin Metals, the company that wants to develop the mine. But Haaland said the significance of the project and its potential environmental impact are worth her traveling to the area.

“This is a really important ecological area not only for Minnesota but for the entire country,” Haaland said. “I think that it’s important for us to make sure that whatever activity is happening on that important land that we assess to make sure that we’re not doing anything that will harm the land.”

Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., represents the 8th Congressional District in the northeast part of the state and is a vocal advocate for mining in the region. He used Haaland’s visit as an opportunity to criticize the Biden administration's pulling of permits for Twin Metals. In January Haaland pulled the leases, which had been reinstated in 2017 by the Trump administration after they were canceled the year before by the Obama administration.

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The leases were first issued in 1966.

“I am disappointed that Secretary Haaland chose to visit the urban city of St. Paul instead of visiting Greater Minnesota, where Interior Department decisions directly impact the jobs of my constituents,” Stauber said in a statement. “I have twice invited Secretary Haaland to visit northern Minnesota to see our vast natural resources, meet with workers and families whose livelihoods depend on mining.”

In response to Stauber, Save The Boundary Waters, an environmental advocacy group opposed to mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, said the type of mining proposed by Twin Metals would permanently pollute the region’s waters and spoil its status as a top outdoors destination.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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