Washington, D.C. – The Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday renewed mineral rights leases for the proposed Twin Metals project near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
The approval comes months after the Trump administration reversed President Obama’s mineral withdrawal.
President Obama’s action proposed a 234,328 acre federal mineral withdrawal in the Superior National Forest for a 20-year term.
The leases cover land nine miles southeast of Ely where Twin Metals is hoping to tap into the world’s largest untapped deposits of copper, nickel, and platinum group metals.
Rep. Pete Stauber, who was present for Wednesday’s lease signing by Department of Interior Assistant Secretary for Land and Mineral Management Joe Balash, said the milestone pushes Twin Metals one step closer to offering a mine plan of operation.
“This lease renewal is a critical step to allow us to present a proposal for our underground mine project,” said Kelly Osborne, TMM chief executive officer. “It’s very good news for us and for the communities in northeastern Minnesota who look forward to the hundreds of jobs and major economic development this mine will bring.”
Environmental responded quickly to the announcement, saying the the review of the project completed by the Trump Administration was “wholly insufficient”.
“(It’s) a continuation of the Trump Administration’s assault on the Boundary Waters Wilderness,” Tom Landwehr, executive director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters said.
Twin Metals expects the project would directly employ 650 people and create an estimated 1,300 spin-off jobs.