Forest Service May Deny Mining Project Leases
The United States Forest Service says its officials may decide to deny the renewal of leases for a precious metal mining project in the Ely and Babbitt areas of Minnesota.
This news comes before the start of a public comment period. The leases, which were held by Twin Metals Minnesota, expired at the end of 2013.
The U.S. Forest Service can make decisions about renewals because the area of concern falls within the Superior National Forest. An agency spokesman said officials are “deeply concerned” about the hazards of mining copper, nickel and other metals in a watershed that flows into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Minnesota governor Mark Dayton expressed similar concerns. He recently sent a letter to the BLM and the USFS calling for a rejection of the leases.
Twin Metals says the forest service’s statement “suggests a disturbing predisposition or bias” against renewing the leases because public comment has not yet been made. They say the agency’s decision is premature and a mining plan for the $2.8 billion project is still under development.
A 30-day comment period will still occur from June 20 to July 20, but the forest service says they will likely still decide on rejecting the leases.