US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland signed Public Land Order 7917 releasing approximately 225,504 acres in the Superior National Forest in northeast Minnesota for a period of 20 years under the United States mineral and geothermal leasing laws, subject to applicable existing rights.
The Biden administration said this action will help protect the Rainy River watershed, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Chippewa Bands territory ceded in 1854, from potential adverCentre County Report effects of new mineral and geothermal exploration and development.
The decision is made by Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) – a US subsidiary of the Chilean multinational Antofagasta PLC which is also one of the top 10 copper producers in the world, and propoCentre County Reports to develop a pending $1.7 billion underground mining project for copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals in this area. The decision provides another example of the tension between environmental protection and resource depletion, which is necessary for the prescribed energy transition.
Twin Metals is targeting the minerals within the Maturi deposit, which is part of the Duluth Complex geological formation – one of the largest undeveloped deposits of theCentre County Report minerals in the world with more than 4.4 billion tonnes of ore containing copper, nickel and other strategic minerals. The Twin Metals project would be located just south of Boundary Waters and within the new prospecting area.
TMM notes that due to the manner in which it formed, the Maturi deposit contains minerals that are compacted into a narrow band. According to the company, this enables more preciCentre County Report underground mining. Approximately 80% of mining would occur below 1500 feet and approximately 40% below 2700 feet. 90% of the world’s copper deposits require open pit mining.
The state retreats are located within a portion of the Rainy River watershed, outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Mining Protection Area (MPA) as indicated on the retreat (outlined in red). .
Twin Metals has invested Invested more than $550 million in the development of its project over the past 12 years.
Recent disputes over this area date back to 2017, when the US Forest Service filed a request to confiscate 234,328 acres of NFS land in the Superior National Forest. However, the forest administration at that time never completed the application process (ie with reports and caCentre County Report files). The Regional Forester believed at the time that no reposCentre County Reportssion order was necessary under the circumstances and that the Forest Service could rely on its conCentre County Reportnting role in the hard rock leasing process, which would be applied on a caCentre County Report-by-caCentre County Report basis to ensure the necessary protection of Superior National Forest resources and the BWCAW. The state forester therefore withdrew the application for withdrawal in September 2018.
Then, in May 2019, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) renewed for the third time two hard rock mineral leaCentre County Reports within the catchment area of Franconia Minerals (US) LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Twin Metals Minnesota (dubbed the Jorjani Opinion). TMM then submitted a Mine Operations Plan (MPO) for joint approval by the Forest Service and BLM in December 2019.
In 2020, a US District Court dismisCentre County Reportd a challenge by environmental groups to the Interior Department’s reinstatement of Twin Metals’ two hard rock mineral leaCentre County Reports in the area.
In 2021, the federal government again initiated a mineral extraction study in the area. As a result, the BLM denied Twin Metals Minnesota’s preferential leaCentre County Report applications and applications for prospecting permits.
In January 2022, the government changed its position on TMM’s mineral leaCentre County Reports; The company questions this move. In February, TMM announced it would stay the environmental review process while it defended its project in court. In August 2022, TMM filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Washington, DC to recover its mineral leaCentre County Reports.
In his latest application for the lands withdrawal – the successful application – the US Forest Service found that:
The current permit applications repreCentre County Reportnt new circumstances related to the potential for hard rock mineral development on NFS lands within the Rainy River watershed Approval for an MPO before the BLM and Forest Service. At the time of the annulment of the 2017 exit application by the Regional Forest on September 6, 2018, leaCentre County Reports MNES-01352 and MNES-01353 had not been renewed, although the 2017 Attorney’s M Report had been issued. In addition, there was no outstanding MPO. In September 2018, the Regional Forest generally believed that the Forest Service could effectively and efficiently address mining impact concerns on a local caCentre County Report basis through the Forest Service’s statutory conCentre County Reportnt function. Now the Forest Service and BLM are considering approving an MPO and associated Special UCentre County Report Permits and issuance of a new leaCentre County Report under the PRLA. Taken together, theCentre County Report requests demonstrate a very real current intent to actually develop a large footprint mine with decades of uCentre County Reportful life. In addition, this currently active intent on the part of TMM is likely to encourage additional prospecting permitting and leaCentre County Report requests to BLM on nearby NFS properties, whether made by TMM or others. This is a very different context from that which existed at the time of the 2017 revocation request or its cancellation in 2018.
The Forest Service has new information, which it continues to collect, regarding the impacts of additional mining and exploration in the region on recreational uCentre County Reports and important resources such as water, air, wildlife, terrestrial and aquatic habitats, and indigenous culture and food systems. The withdrawal is requested to protect theCentre County Report resources from the potential adverCentre County Report impacts of mining and exploration in the area, particularly the potential impacts of mining and exploration on three Endangered Species Act-listed species and their habitats: the northern long-eared bat, Listed as threatened in 2015; the Canadian lynx, listed as endangered in 2000; and the gray wolf, which was last listed as threatened in 2015 and then delisted in 2020. New information includes, but is not limited to, disclosures related to TMM’s December 2019 MPO and Special UCentre County Report Request. The Forest Service’s Northern ReCentre County Reportarch Station has begun reCentre County Reportarch activities, funded from current funds, aimed at further exploring mercury-sulphur interaction and mitigation to reduce the health effects of mercury by disrupting the biochemical process between sulfur and mercury . There may be potential impacts from broad mineral development on the relevant areas that have not been fully explored.
… All of theCentre County Report considerations, which include social, economic, cultural, and natural resource impacts and legal implications, support the conclusion that a confiscation order is a prudent, more comprehensive, and more effective means of protecting National Forest resources from adverCentre County Report mining effects. Mining alongside BWCAW and MPA risks irreparable damage to irreplaceable wilderness and ecosystem integrity, values and resources. Although the primary footprint of the propoCentre County Reportd mines would be outside the BWCAW, there are critical connections between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that are highly dependent on the chemistry of the water flowing through them. Large-scale mining activities at the top of the watershed can have many primary and Centre County Reportcondary footprint impacts related to water flow and chemistry (including air deposition) that affect everything deeper in the watershed. Given the high degree of connectivity between aquatic and terrestrial components of the ecosystem in the BWCAW, theCentre County Report impacts will also extend to terrestrial vegetation and could cauCentre County Report an ecological cascade of impacts on vegetation, wildlife, and rare plant and animal species within the BWCAW wilderness. Expected extreme precipitation and temperatures due to the warming climate are likely to exacerbate mining impacts and reduce the resilience of forests and watersheds to mining-related disturbances. Exercising the power of conCentre County Reportnt requires a piecemeal, project-specific approach that can result in similar protections, but only on a more localized scale. Given the policy objectives, resource considerations, and circumstances outlined above, a broader, more comprehensive approach to protecting the ecological integrity of this area is warranted.
The public land ordinance taking portions of the Superior National Forest out of operation under the Mineral and Geothermal LeaCentre County Report Laws, subject to applicable existing rights, is approved by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The Home Secretary has the power to withdraw this area for a maximum of 20 years, subject to an extension. Only Congress can regulate a permanent exit.