Citizens gave input in Duluth last night on whether the U-S Forest Service should renew leases for the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine near Ely. Becky Rom says the BWCA Wilderness is a national treasure and “the Twin Metals sulfide ore copper mine… would put all of this at risk.” But Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich says mining is her town’s only industry: “We don’t have the tax base that the metro and the Duluth have, and the people that live here do not want to live in those areas. They are hard-working individuals with a history and a heritage that is steeped rich in our areas and the mining tradition.” There’s another listening session next Tuesday in Ely.
The U-S Forest Service said earlier this summer it is “deeply concerned” about the leases being in the same watershed as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and by the “inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other sulfide mining operations.” Governor Mark Dayton says he agrees. But 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan said it appears the Forest Service has “all but decided to disapprove the leases.” Nolan adds “now is not the time to pre-emptively block new mining opportunities on the Range, or the environmental review process itself.”