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Righteous lawsuits galore vs. Twin Metals

by Dan Burns on July 6, 2018 · 0 comments

sulfideWhatever it takes, to crush the Twin Metals proposal, is justified, from any and all environmental, economic, and ethical perspectives.
 

A group of nine northeastern Minnesota businesses and an environmental group sued the U.S. Department of the Interior (June 21), seeking to overturn the reinstatement last month of two federal mineral leases to a company seeking to build a copper-nickel mine near the border of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
 
The plaintiffs, which include a number of canoe outfitters and a resort around the wilderness, argue that the reinstatement of the leases to Twin Metals Minnesota was unlawful, and poses an immediate threat to their businesses, the outdoor recreation economy and the environment.
(MPR)

In addition to galvanizing our members to contact their members of Congress, The Wilderness Society filed a lawsuit June 25 challenging the Interior Department’s recent push to open the area’s fragile ecosystem to sulfide-ore copper mining.
 
We were joined by 2 other conservation groups opposed to the Interior Department’s reinstatement of two expired mineral leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a foreign-owned mining company, on Superior National Forest lands.
(The Wilderness Society)

On June 25, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the sulfide-ore mine proposed by Twin Metals, a subsidiary of the Chilean-owned mining conglomerate Antofagasta.
(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

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Ramming destruction of the BWCA down our throats

by Dan Burns on February 1, 2018 · 0 comments

sulfideThose involved in this latest disgrace are doing something really unconscionable. Hopefully they’re happy with how future generations will see them, in light of the poisoned land and water of what was one of North America’s finest wildernesses, if this project does happen.
 

Less than a year later, it turns out the study (of the Twin Metals proposal) will be cancelled after all, to be replaced by an “abbreviated” environmental assessment, according to the Washington Post, which obtained a draft news release prepared by the Forest Service.
 
An irate (Rep. Betty) McCollum condemned the discovery on Friday, saying, “The Trump administration’s decision to abandon a comprehensive and public Environment Impact Statement appears to demonstrate that an Interior Department hell-bent on advancing toxic mining is calling the shots about the future of this untouched wilderness.”
(City Pages)

People should be aware of the personal relationship between the boss of Antofagasta, and therefore of Twin Metals, and the Trump family.

 
Related items:
 

(On January 5), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources published a draft permit to mine based on PolyMet Mining’s application and published a draft set of permit conditions. This initiates a public objection period on the draft permit that ends on March 6, 2018. The permit to mine is a central permit required for PolyMet to operate a copper-nickel sulfide mine in Minnesota, and would be the first such permit issued in Minnesota history.
 
Mining Truth released polling today conducted in December 2017 by Public Policy Polling showing a plurality of Minnesota voters oppose PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine.
(Mining Truth)

– Some good news: An effort to relax water quality standards pertaining to wild rice was recently blocked.
 

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sulfideHere’s more background about sulfide mining proposals in Minnesota. Those in the state who won’t let the horrific Twin Metals proposal die an easy death may mean well by their own lights, but are in fact exercising extremely poor judgment.
 

Trump’s Interior Department is reinstating two 1966 leases, written before today’s federal environmental laws, that could allow a Chilean mining company to build a giant copper-and-nickel mine adjacent to the Boundary Waters wilderness area in northern Minnesota.
 
The mining company is controlled by Andrónico Luksic, whose family controls a mining, banking and industrial empire that Forbes estimates is valued at $13.1 billion. Luksic also dabbles in Washington, D.C., residential real estate and has a business relationship with the Trump family. He is First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner’s and First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s landlord…
 
Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of Antofagasta PLC, sued in federal court over the leases for 4,800 acres on the southwest border of the Boundary Waters even before the Obama administration decided in December 2016 against renewing them.
(DCReport.org)

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Twin Metals backers skip listening session

by Dan Burns on July 19, 2017 · 0 comments

sulfideThis isn’t about PolyMet. The Twin Metals mine is the one that would be right on the edge of the BWCA. Governor Dayton publicly announced his opposition a while ago. Twin Metals is trying to plow ahead anyway, but undoubtedly to their shock the Trump administration doesn’t seem to be with them. So this proposed atrocity is looking like a long shot, these days, but that doesn’t mean anyone should relax, and as you can tell from the article a lot of righteous people know that.
 

With one side refusing to show up, opponents of copper-nickel mining on the edge of Minnesota’s pristine wilderness packed a hearing Tuesday in the Twin Cities.
 
A group of 17 organizations that support the mining proposal boycotted the event, while speakers from a crowd of about 1,000 were unanimous in opposing copper-nickel mining in a watershed on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park…
 
Those boycotting Tuesday’s event say they’ll continue to make their case for mining “loud and clear” at a hearing next week in Virginia, Minn.
 
“Why must the people with the greatest stake, whose jobs and regional economic viability are at risk, have to keep turning out for these charades?” the group said in a statement. “When was the last time federal agencies held a hearing Up North on projects in the Twin Cities, such as the Green Line or St. Croix River Crossing?”
(Star Tribune)

When people start whining about “charades,” in contexts like this, it’s a good sign that they just don’t have the mojo working.
 

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bwcaThis isn’t a pleasant matter to brood over, but it is the reality with which we now have to deal.
 

Similar federal measures blocking mineral exploration near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will also bite the dust. Now, bear in mind, that doesn’t necessarily mean that shovels will turn in the near future. It does, however, create a regulatory environment where they could. Companies would still need to invest in the expensive business of mining the widely dispersed ores in the region’s mineral reserves. (As I’ve explained recently and for the last 16 years, that is why we should always maintain healthy skepticism and foster more diverse economic opportunities for our region)…
 
That brings to mind the old wounds likely to be re-opened in coming years. As this wonderful recent Tom Weber story on Minnesota Public Radio shows, the 1970s BWCA debate created enduring division in the city of Ely. Some of the same people, their kids and grandkids, are prepared to fight the issue all over again.
 
For years, the nonferrous mining debate has centered on mining projects *near* the BWCA. The same watershed, but not within the boundaries of the park. But as this Jan. 19 story in the Guardian shows, Republicans don’t just want to eliminate regulations near federals lands like the BWCA, they actually want to transfer the lands, at a significant discount, in most cases to the states.
(Minnesota Brown)

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Twin Metals leases application gets crushed

by Dan Burns on December 16, 2016 · 0 comments

sulfideSweet!
 

The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness applauds the decision by federal agencies to deny Twin Metals Minnesota’s application to extend two federal mineral leases. This decision comes after an extensive public input period where over 70,000 people asked the federal government to deny the lease extension. Hundreds of people showed up to public meetings in Duluth and Ely to express their concerns.
 
The Department of Interior also announced it has received an application from the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw federal mineral rights in the Boundary Waters watershed. This starts a public review process to analyze withdrawing federal mineral rights for a twenty-year period. A public input period on this permanent protection for the Boundary Waters will begin once notice is published in the Federal Register and will last ninety days. This review also creates a two-year “time out” when no new federal mineral leases can be issued.
 
“These actions happened because tens of thousands of people spoke up against locating a sulfide mine on the edge of America’s most popular wilderness area,” stated Executive Director Paul Danicic.
(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

There is more detail in this article from MPR, though I would suggest that it’s too friendly to Twin Metals’ inflated estimates of alleged positive economic impact on the region (start on page 17 of the linked pdf). It notes that Twin Metals says they’re not giving up. If you ask me and a whole lot of other people, it’s high time that they do so. So should PolyMet.

 
And I have to note that I don’t know how much interest Trump & Co. will take in this issue. Obviously efforts could be initiated to reverse the above, and bring about the worst outcomes instead.
 

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Group seeks to righteously crush Twin Metals

by Dan Burns on November 30, 2016 · 0 comments

sulfideGov. Mark Dayton opposes the Twin Metals proposal, and because of that and other factors it is essentially on life support. We hope.
 

The environmental group Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness has asked a federal judge to let them intervene in a lawsuit that could decide mineral leases under the proposed Twin Metals copper mine near Ely.
 
The group filed paperwork Tuesday, Nov. 22, in federal district court in St. Paul in hopes it can intervene in the suit filed by Twin Metals against the U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness also filed notice that it plans to ask that the case be dismissed, although that can’t happen until the first hearing scheduled in the suit on April 28.
(InForum)

If you’re not familiar with the issue, here is a quick primer from Save the Boundary Waters.
 

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sulfideTwin Metals has a plan in the works to get into some serious sulfide mining, right next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. If that seems like a really awful, horrible idea to you, first of all, it is, and second, you have plenty of company.
 

Much of that pressure has come from the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, which says it has gathered 55,000 petitions urging the Forest Service to deny the leases.
 
The campaign’s Becky Rom says federal agencies should decide now whether the area is appropriate for copper mining, before specific mine plans are submitted…
 
Daryl Spencer of Duluth summed up the views of the majority of speakers at Wednesday’s event when he told the Forest Service he’s not against mining; he just doesn’t support it in the same watershed as the Boundary Waters.
 
“I want jobs for Iron Range families,” Spencer said. “This is just a bad place for this type of mine, and it’s not worth the risk.”
(MPR)

Here’s a MinnPost article suggesting that this potentially disastrous travesty probably will meet the fate it deserves. I’m not wholly on board with that – that is, I’m not ready to proclaim triumph, yet – but the author does make a strong case.
 

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miningThis is from December 22, and is based on the release of the Environmental Protection Agency review of PolyMet’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.
 

A quick read of the cover letter the Environmental Protection Agency released yesterday with its thoughts on the PolyMet Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) would appear to show a federal agency warming to the idea of authorizing the state’s first ever sulfide mine.
 
But the four pages of detailed comments attached to the letter reveal a different narrative showing that federal regulators remain concerned about the lack of data and lack of specificity on a number of the key issues of the proposal…
 

The EPA confirms northward flow of polluted water into the BWCA and Voyageurs National Park watershed “is a possibility” and that “further impact assessment is needed.”

(Mining Truth)

Let’s say that you’re at work, out partying, or whatever, and are having a polite, informative conversation about this issue with someone who has not yet made up her mind. The likelihood of the project fouling northern Minnesota’s pristine wilderness preserves is one of the points that I think most worth emphasizing. Two others:

 
Glencore is a vile company run by sleazeballs and with a horrific record of labor and environmental abuses. There is every reason to believe that it will cut corners every way it can on environmental protection, pay and treat its workers poorly, shut down everything whenever metal prices slump, and eventually cut and run, laughing all the way to the mega-Swiss bank, as Minnesotans are stuck with the enormous long-term cleanup bill. That one is especially effective because people hate feeling that they’re being lied to and taken advantage of.

 
– That same Glencore doesn’t even want to provide a reasonable damage deposit, as an honest indicator of worthy intent. Everyone understands damage deposits, and most have had to personally provide them sometime in their own lives.
 
If you can get people taking something personally (because they should), that’s good persuasion that works.
 

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thidI4516115766313161pid1If they can. Here’s the deal. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) straddles part of the Minnesota/Ontario border. What with not being so much the trekking, camping type, I haven’t been there, but knowledgeable sources tell me that it is quite literally heaven on earth. Spectacular and powerful.
 
A corporate entity called Twin Metals Minnesota wants to dig and operate a big mine, for copper, nickel and whatever else turns up, right about where the South Kawishiwi River connects with the BWCA. (Here’s a PDF map; we’re talking about the one that says “Duluth Metals.“ More about the various corporate tentacles involved, below.) The project has the (almost giddy) support of many of the state’s top elected officials, which in Minnesota right now means Democrats, who have been seduced by the siren call of purported jobs and “economic development.”
 
Here are the two main issues:
 
– Can this mine happen without serious, long-term environmental damage? There is every reason to be exceedingly doubtful, as a project of this nature has never happened before, without negative environmental consequences.
 
– There is also little reason to be confident that it will be all that great for the area’s economy, to say the least. Frankly, quite the contrary.
 
In the past, I’ve been skeptical, including on this blog, that this project will really happen. I believed that the investor/shareholder “benefit” in “cost/benefit” would be determined not to be there. I was wrong. This is very serious.
 
…READ MORE

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