Governor Mark Dayton told the Associated Press this week that he doesn’t believe the Twin Metals copper-nickel mine proposal near the Boundary Waters is permanently blocked.
Dayton applauded the federal government’s recent decision to cancel mineral leases Chilean firm Antofagasta PLC would need to operate the mine. But he said President-elect Donald Trump and his administration could reverse the decision and allow the mine to go forward.
The Interior Department recently said that the leases, which were first issued in the 1960s, before modern environmental review, were not appropriate in the area. Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior is Montana Representative Ryan Zinke.
Zinke told a Montana newspaper in October, before being elected to his second term as Congressman, that he supports federal ownership of lands.
“I will never agree with the transfer or sale of public lands. I have voted against that along with voting for the Land and Water Conservation Fund I think 17 times. I view our public lands as sacred and access to our public lands has to be part of it because we’re shutting gates, we’re closing roads and the public is losing access,” the Montana Standard reported him saying.
Governor Dayton, saying he doesn’t think the Twin Metals mine is dead, repeated his concerns about the project, saying it could pollute the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with acid mine drainage. The proposed site on the South Kawishiwi River and Birch Lake would be upstream of the wilderness and Voyageurs National Park. Dayton believes such a large mine in the area’s sulfide-bearing ore presents unacceptable risks.
“Twin Metals is building one wing of the Mall of America underground. It’s a huge, huge project,” Dayton told the AP. “To think you can excavate all of that, and pull those minerals out, and process them, and just take them by train somewhere else, and bring the waste back and deposit it without consequences, to me is just totally unrealistic.”
In April, Dayton blocked Twin Metals from accessing state-owned lands.