Friday, December 16, 2016

Ely copper mine project may be dead without access to federal lands

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service on Thursday rescinded federal mineral leases from Twin Metals Minnesota in a move that, if it stands, could kill the copper-nickel mine proposed near Ely. Officials of the agencies said the massive underground mine proposed along the Kawishiwi River is simply too close to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The project is within the BWCAW watershed that flows north into Canada, and critics have said that any polluted runoff from rock high in sulfur could taint the 1.1 million acre, lake-studded wilderness. “Not this mine, not in this place, not next to this wilderness,” Leslie Jones, deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said in an interview. The Department of Agriculture oversees the Forest Service while the Interior Department oversees the BLM. Supporters say the nearly $3 billion project would employ 850 people and pump millions of dollars into the regional economy hard hit by the cyclical nature of the iron ore industry. The company responded Thursday that it will take legal action to overturn the agency decision, and mining supporters predicted that the incoming Trump administration will overturn the 11th hour move by the Obama administration...more

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