Public input needed on decision about mining next to the Boundary Waters

Sunset on Birch Lake, a National Forest lake adjacent to the Twin Metals mine proposal. (Photo by Greg Seitz)
Sunset on Birch Lake, a National Forest lake adjacent to the Twin Metals mine proposal. (Photo by Greg Seitz)

The time has arrived to have a say in whether or not sulfide ore mining will be allowed on the Superior National Forest, in areas neighboring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The U.S. Forest Service is accepting public input until July 20 to help decide if it should consent to the renewal of important federal mineral leases Chilean mining company Antofagasta PLC previously controlled.

Announcing the comment period, the Forest Service said it was “deeply concerned” that the Twin Metals mine proposal is located in an area where the water flows toward the Boundary Waters, and about “the inherent risks” of sulfide ores, infamous for polluting waterways.

Twin Metals, wholly owned by Antofagasta, and depending on the leases for its proposal, responded that it was “disappointed” by the Forest Service for “general and arbitrary concerns.”

The company says environmental review should happen later. The PolyMet mine, outside the wilderness watershed, recently completed its own lengthy review and will soon start applying for permits. Twin Metals claims the Forest Service may have a “disturbing predisposition” against its project.

“[Twin Metals] is evaluating all options to protect the company’s valid existing property rights, due process and contractual entitlement to renewal of the federal leases,” the company said in a statement.

Comments may be mailed to the Superior National Forest, 8901 Grand Ave Place, Duluth, MN 55808; or emailed to TwinMetalsLeaseInput@fs.fed.us. A listening session will be held July 13, 2016 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and will be live streamed on the internet.

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