As the global race for mineral resources heats up, the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management renewed two hardrock mineral leases in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, opening the area up to copper mining.
The leases granted to Twin Metals Minnesota LLC over heavy opposition from environmentalist groups, were first issued in 1966 for a 20-year term, and renewed several times. The Obama administration had rejected the latest renewals in 2016, but officials in the current administration questioned the government’s legal power to reject the renewal and thus reversed this decision.
It’s a timely move: formally a copper/nickel/gold/platinum-palladium deposit – the project site has Critical Mineral potential via the Platinum Group Metals, at a time when critical mineral and metal co-products factor into the U.S. Government’s focus on alleviating critical mineral import-dependencies.
Minnesota Congressmen Emmer (MN-06) and Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) applauded the signing of the leases.
Said Congressman Emmer:
“Following the Interior’s announcement today, I am pleased that the Trump Administration acknowledges that we can responsibly develop our state’s resources – bringing jobs back to this region – while preserving the forests, lakes and streams that all Minnesotans hold dear,” said Congressman Emmer. “Our state and local economies deserve to prosper, and we can ensure that, while also protecting Minnesota’s beauty for future generations. When it comes to protecting the environment and developing our economic assets, nobody does it better than Minnesota.”
Congressman Stauber added:
“In northern Minnesota, mining is our past, our present, and our future. With 21st century technology, we can responsibly develop the resources needed for the modern world and unleash the economic engine of northeastern Minnesota. (…) Unfortunately, misinformed policies of the past have not only prevented the responsible development of our resources but have even prohibited companies like Twin Metals from even submitting a proposed mining plan. I applaud Secretary Bernhardt and the Trump Administration for putting politics aside and rightfully giving our miners the opportunity to meet or exceed all environmental standards.”
The BLM’s Environmental Assessment released in December of 2018 includes updated language to ensure compliance with laws and regulations that have been put in place since the leases were initially granted.
With the leases renewed, the permitting process will move into the next phase, during which Twin Metals must submit formal mine plan of operations triggering an extensive scientific and environmental review by the federal government.
With copper increasingly becoming a key building block of not just mainstay industries but also our green energy future, this is a welcome development we will continue to follow.