Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland has shown an interest in visiting northeast Minnesota to learn more about a contentious proposed copper-nickel mine in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Haaland said she couldn’t say if her agency would allow the planned mine to continue forward during a visit to St. Paul on Friday to announce almost $9 million in federal money for urban parks in Minnesota.
Twin Metals, the business that intends to construct the mine, had two mining leases revoked by the Interior Department in January. However, Haaland believes that the project’s importance and possible environmental consequences justify her visit.
“Not only for Minnesota, but for the entire country,” stated Haaland. “I believe it is critical for us to review whatever activity is taking on on that key area to ensure that we are not doing anything that would harm the land.”
Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., represents Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District in the state’s northeast, and is a strong supporter of mining in the area. He took use of Haaland’s visit to condemn the Biden administration’s decision to revoke Twin Metals’ licenses. Haaland revoked the leases in January after the Trump government revived them in 2017 after the Obama administration had terminated them the year before.
The first leases were given in 1966.
“I am unhappy that Secretary Haaland decided to visit St. Paul rather than Greater Minnesota, where Interior Department policies directly affect the jobs of my residents,” Stauber said in a statement. “I’ve asked Secretary Haaland to visit northern Minnesota on two occasions to view our huge natural resources and speak with employees and families whose lives are based on mining.”
Save The Boundary Waters, an environmental advocacy group opposed to mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, responded to Stauber by saying that the type of mining proposed by Twin Metals would permanently pollute the region’s waters and jeopardize the region’s reputation as a top outdoor destination.