A group of conservation organizations are trying to prevent sulfide-ore mining at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota.
The Wilderness Society, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Izaak Walton League of America, represented by Earthjustice, recently joined nine Minnesota businesses in filing lawsuits to protect America’s most visited wilderness area from mining.
The three organizations are challenging the Department of the Interior’s decision in May to reinstate two expired federal mineral leases held by foreign-owned mining company Twin Metals Minnesota. This means the company can build an industrial mining complex on the area’s edge.
Another mining firm has filed papers to mine land formerly within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
According to The Wilderness Society, the pollution resulting from sulfide-ore copper mining would harm the water quality and ecology of the protected public lands and waterways. And the local economy – which is sustained by tourism and jobs connected to this fishing, canoeing, and camping mecca – would also suffer.
“Protected in the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Boundary Waters is one of America’s most beloved wilderness areas,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society. “Creating the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was a promise to protect these interconnected lands and waters in their natural state for generations to come. Sulfide-ore mining on the edge of this iconic wilderness would replace a legacy of conservation and recreation with pollution and environmental degradation. This Interior Department continues to make mining and drilling the highest priority for our public lands, even when it threatens the nation’s wildest places.”
Additionally, President Donald Trump said his administration would be rescinding Obama-era protections to Superior National Forest, opening the area up for a project also by Twin Metals.
Twin Metals in its mission statement says it recognizes “environmental stewardship as a core value and strives to be a leader in protecting Minnesota’s wilderness, natural environment, and recreational and cultural resources.”
Aug. 11 is the deadline for the public to weigh in on whether future mining should be allowed in the Boundary Waters’ watershed. Here’s where to weigh in.