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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

DNR to seek public comment for mining rule review

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 10/6/21

REGIONAL— The Department of Natural Resources will begin to accept public comment on the adequacy of the state’s non-ferrous mining rules beginning Nov. 9, in compliance with a court …

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DNR to seek public comment for mining rule review

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REGIONAL— The Department of Natural Resources will begin to accept public comment on the adequacy of the state’s non-ferrous mining rules beginning Nov. 9, in compliance with a court order issued last month. The 30-day public comment period,w which will run through Dec. 8, is part of a court-mandated review of the rules that govern the siting of non-ferrous mines in the state, which would include copper-nickel mines currently under consideration. The process could eventually lead to revisions of the state’s rules pertaining to such mines.
The review comes in response to a lawsuit by Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness filed back in June under provisions of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. NMW claims in its lawsuit that Minnesota’s longstanding nonferrous mine siting rule is inadequate to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from toxic runoff from the sulfide-based mine that Twin Metals proposes to build upstream of a major wilderness watershed. The group advocates that sulfide-based mining be prohibited within portions of the Rainy River watershed located upstream of the 1.1-million-acre wilderness area. Currently, the state’s rule prohibits mining in the BWCAW and prohibits mining that disturbs the surface in a specified area around the BWCAW.
“This review will give Minnesotans the opportunity to demonstrate that the state’s rules regulating where it is appropriate to conduct risky mining are not sufficient to protect the Boundary Waters,” said Becky Rom, of Ely, who heads the national Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. “Antofagasta’s Twin Metals sulfide-ore copper mining project threatens the clean water, robust local economy, and world-class recreational value of our nation’s most visited wilderness.”
Specifically, the DNR will be seeking comment on the following question: “With express consideration of how Minn. R. 6132.2000, subp. 2A and subp. 3A fit within the broader context of all applicable environmental protection in state and federal law regulating nonferrous mining, are the exclusion of mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) set forth in Minn. R. 6132.2000 subp. 2A, and the prohibition of surface disturbance in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Mineral Management Corridor as set forth in Minn. R. 6132.2000, subp. 3A adequate to protect the BWCAW from pollution, impairment, or destruction or should further restrictions on mining be extended to all or part of the Rainy River- Headwaters defined as HUC 09030001?”
The DNR has established a dedicated webpage for DNR’s review of the siting rule at https://engage.dnr.state.mn.us/siting-rule-review-nonferrous-mines. This webpage will be used to house information about the review process and contains a link to sign up for future GovDelivery emails on this topic. The DNR will use the GovDelivery list to announce the start of the public comment period next month.

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