The US Land Administration (BLM) has agreed to reconsider its decision to renew 13 prospecting licenses in Minnesota, a decision that could affect Antofagasta's Twin Metals to expand the size of its proposed copper-nickel mine in the border waters canoe area.
The move comes after environmental groups challenged a four-year extension of a license granted by former President Donald Trump (Donald Trump).
"after the terrible years of the Trump administration, federal officials now seem to focus on rational, science-based decision-making," Mark Fink (Marc Fink), a senior lawyer at the Center for Biodiversity, said in a statement. "A comprehensive scientific analysis of these licenses and Twin Metals recommendations shows that the risk of developing large copper sulphide mines in the upper reaches of the border waters wilderness is too high."
The company noted that the 13 prospecting licenses mentioned in the recent agreement were not part of its mining plan, which is currently being reviewed by state and federal regulators.
Northeastern Minnesota has large untapped reserves of copper and nickel, but they are bound by sulphide minerals that filter out sulfuric acid and other pollutants if exposed to air and water. Experts say primitive and border waters have little ability to neutralize them.
Twin Metals and its supporters, including several unions in Minnesota, say the $1.7 billion project can be safely built and boost the region's economy.
If completed, the mine would become a major supplier of copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals to the United States, while President Biden (Joe Biden) aimed to promote the production of (EV) electric cars, which use twice as much copper as cars with internal combustion engines.
Once operational, it will create 700 jobs and employ 1400 contractors.
A representative of Twin Metals said the company hoped that the regulatory review process "will remain impartial and scientifically and legally based in the coming years."
Minnesota Democratic representative Betty McCorum (Betty McCollum) last month introduced a bill that would ban mining in the area. Biden (Biden) can only stop the region from exploiting resources for 20 years, although Congress can stop it permanently.
In March, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (Tom Vilsack) temporarily blocked another controversial copper mine, Rio Tinto's Resolution Copper project in Arizona.