Twin Metals Minnesota

DNR review of mining rule could halt Twin Metals’ plans near BWCA

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced a process to review if Minnesota’s nonferrous mining rules are strong enough to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from proposed copper-nickel mines in the region.

The order describes how the DNR will seek public comment and make a decision on whether the state’s existing nonferrous mine siting rule is adequate to protect the BWCA from pollution, impairment or destruction from potential mining within the Rainy River Headwaters watershed, including Quetico Provincial Park and the BWCA.

The DNR process was directed by a Ramsey County District Court order in a 2020 lawsuit brought by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness.

The DNR will accept comments from the public on the adequacy of the rules to protect the BWCA during a 30-day comment period that will start Nov. 9. It will accept public comments on the adequacy of the rule through Dec. 8.

The state agency established a dedicated webpage for DNR’s review of the mining regulation.

Twin Metals Minnesota submitted plans in December 2019 to state and federal agencies for its proposed copper-nickel mine on the edge of the BWCA near Ely.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Jess Richards, an assistant commissioner for the Minnesota DNR, about the situation and what comes next in the process.