Biden administration cancels mining leases near wilderness area

The Biden administration said Wednesday it had canceled two mining leases that would have allowed the construction of a copper mine near...


The Biden administration said Wednesday it had canceled two mining leases that would have allowed the construction of a copper mine near a wilderness area in Minnesota.

The Interior Department said it determined the leases, held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of Chilean mining conglomerate Antofagasta, were improperly reinstated by the Trump administration in 2019.

President Obama had previously decided to block the mining project, refusing to renew the leases. But from the first weeks of the Trump presidency, the administration worked at high levels to remove roadblocks at the mine, The New York Times reported in 2019.

The move follows discussions between Antofagasta leaders and senior administration officials. Billionaire AndrĂ³nico Luksic, whose family controls Antofagasta, also rented a $5.5 million home in Washington from Ivanka Trump, the daughter of former President Donald J. Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, at the start of the Trump administration when the couple first moved. in Washington, D.C.

Representatives of Mr. Luksic at the time described renting the house as a simple real estate transaction involving the family of the new president. Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner also said they followed ethics advice.

Antofagasta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest decision. In a statement, Twin Metals said it was disappointed with the Biden administration’s decision and would challenge it.

“We are firmly committed to delivering much-needed economic growth to our region and the opportunity to responsibly develop critical minerals necessary for our global efforts to combat the climate crisis,” the company said in a statement. Copper is widely used for wiring, cabling and other applications in the renewable energy industry.

The Boundary Waters, a vast landscape of protected lakes and forests along the border with Canada, is home to thousands of species, including the gray wolf and Canada lynx. But mining companies have long shown an interest in the area, because beneath the surface lies around four billion tonnes of copper and nickel ore. He is thought to be one of the largest untapped mineral deposits in the world.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said her department “takes seriously our obligations to manage public lands and waters on behalf of all Americans.” She added: ‘We need to be consistent in how we apply the terms of the lease to ensure that no tenant gets special treatment.

She said a new legal opinion from the Home Office’s attorney’s office had found “significant legal flaws” in the circumstances surrounding the 2019 renewal, including a violation of departmental regulations and inadequate environmental analysis.

The proposed mine had sparked a backlash from local environmentalists, who said harmful metals and other contaminants could leak from the site. “Today is a major victory for protecting boundary waters,” said Becky Rom, national chair of the Campaign to Save Boundary Waters. The leases, she added, “should never have been reinstated in the first place.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden administration cancels mining leases near wilderness area
Biden administration cancels mining leases near wilderness area
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