A council of top Minnesota government officials has again delayed the sale of a set of northeastern Minnesota mineral exploration leases on properties where the state holds the mineral rights but private individuals own the surface land.
The Duluth News Tribune covers the story in depth HERE.
The Minnesota Executive Council — which consists of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general — removed discussion of the mining leases from the agenda of its meeting next week in St. Paul. Governor Mark Dayton and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials decided instead to move consideration of the 77 leases in the Isabella area to a special meeting in October.
In June, the council voted 5-0 to postpone the mineral rights sale of the properties in question, saying the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had not done enough to inform landowners of potential mining interest in their properties. The council vote — the first to disapprove a DNR lease package since 1982 — was seen as a partial victory by those owning land over areas where the state is leasing mineral exploration rights.
DNR officials say they plan to submit the same package of leases to the council for approval in October, but wanted additional time to inform landowners of the council meeting. Interest in exploring for copper, nickel, gold, and other minerals in the area is high.
Mining proponents say exploration leases are vital to search for areas that might ultimately be developed into mining operations which would bring jobs to the area and royalty money to the state. Opponents claims the current laws are stacked against landowners and that the public is unaware of the possible expansion of mining across northeastern Minnesota.