Mining ban near the Boundary Waters? The public is asked to weigh in.

Map of federal lands proposed for withdrawal from mining. (BLM)

Two government agencies will hold online public meetings in January about the proposal to prohibit copper-nickel mining on federal lands that drain toward the Boundary Waters. The meetings come near the end of a comment period on the plan intended to protect clean water and the wilderness. If successful, the prohibition would effectively block the proposed Twin Metals mine.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are jointly hosting the meetings. Both agencies, in the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, respectively, have a role in the decision.

The meetings will cover both the Forest Service’s application to remove the lands from mineral extraction, and an environmental review of the issue. The Forest Service’s review is intended to determine the possible impacts of mining on the region broadly, beyond any specific proposal.

“This withdrawal application will allow for a comprehensive approach to analysis and protection of the social and natural resources, ecological integrity, and wilderness values that could be threatened by potential future mining in this area,” regional forester Gina Owens wrote in a letter to the BLM.

Public meetings:

  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 15, 2022, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Links to online meetings will be available at https://go.usa.gov/xesF7 within two weeks before the meetings.

Comments will be used to determine issues associated with the proposed withdrawal, develop alternatives, determine the scope of analysis, and refine the effects analysis. Comments are most useful and effective if they refer to a specific activity or example, provide a potential solution, or propose mitigation. 

The BLM is accepting written comments regarding the withdrawal application and the scope of the environmental assessment until January 19, 2022. Comments can be sent to BLM_ES_Lands@blm.gov or 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia 22041. Commenters are asked to include “RE: Superior National Forest Withdrawal Application” in the subject line of their email.

More information:

Mineral cores collected by Twin Metals during exploration drilling. (Photo via Twin Metals).

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