Biden Administration rescinds Twin Metals’ underground mining leases

Featured photo: Lake One, BWCAW. Photo by official Bemidji Now News Correspondent Scott Williams.

The Biden Administration canceled the lease renewals for a proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Superior National Forest.

In a memo released Wednesday, the lease renewals issued under the Trump Administration in 2019 were “designed specifically for Twin Metals and that departed from and altered the Bureau of Land Management’s standard lease form and term.”

Twin Metals is a subsidiary of the Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, with an initial proposal for the new underground mine in 2013.

The first 10-year leases for underground mining in this area were issued in the 1960s but the Twin Metals leases were rescinded during the final days of the Obama administration.

The group Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness argues that the process to extract copper and nickel from sulfide-rich ore produces sulfuric acid, which poses a threat to the pristine waters of the BWCA.

Congresswoman Michelle Fischbach writes:

“This action will only increase our dependence on foreign minerals at a time when the Biden Administration pushes to drastically increase demand for technologies like EV vehicles and solar panels that require them. Mining is a part of our great state’s heritage, and we have been doing it safely for over a century. I am disappointed the Biden Administration is again caving to the whims of liberal activists hundreds of miles from the region at the expense of Northern Minnesota’s future.”

Nickel is a key component for the production of electric vehicle batteries, with Tesla’s Elon Musk already signing an agreement with another northern Minnesota mine, Talon in Aitkin County, two weeks ago.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!


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