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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Forest Service, BLM seek public comment on mineral withdrawal

Comments on impact study being accepted through Jan. 19

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 12/15/21

REGIONAL— The public will have its first opportunity to weigh-in in person on the federal proposal to institute a 20-year moratorium on new mineral leasing on about 225,000 acres within the …

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Forest Service, BLM seek public comment on mineral withdrawal

Comments on impact study being accepted through Jan. 19

Posted

REGIONAL— The public will have its first opportunity to weigh-in in person on the federal proposal to institute a 20-year moratorium on new mineral leasing on about 225,000 acres within the Superior National Forest, near Ely.
The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service will hold three virtual public meetings in January to allow for comment on the moratorium proposal, known as a mineral withdrawal. The meetings are set for:
• Wednesday, Jan. 12, from 1-4 p.m.
• Saturday, Jan. 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Tuesday, Jan. 18 from 5-8 p.m.
The Zoom link to register for the meetings will be available online no later than two weeks before the first meeting at https://go.usa.gov/xesF7.  
Before including your address, phone number, email, or other personal identifiable information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including this personal information – may be made publicly available at any time. While individuals may request the BLM to withhold personal information from public view, the BLM cannot guarantee it will be able to do so.  
The land being considered for a mineral withdrawal, which has been subject to copper-nickel exploration for years, is located in the upper reaches of the Rainy River watershed. While the affected land is located outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the U.S. Forest Service contends that mining in the area is likely to impact water quality downstream, including in a large portion of the BWCAW.
Because of that risk, the Forest Service initiated its request for a mineral withdrawal in October.
That began a two-year moratorium on new mineral leasing in the affected area while the Forest Service completes an environmental and economic analysis of the proposed 20-year withdrawal. The virtual meetings next month are being held to give the public a chance to comment on the proposed withdrawal and the scope of the Forest Service study. The public comment period ends on Jan. 19.
The proposed mineral withdrawal, by itself, will not affect the two existing mineral leases currently controlled by Twin Metals, although it would halt the company’s plans to obtain a third mineral lease it contends is necessary to construct its proposed copper-nickel mine about eight miles southeast of Ely. That third mineral lease application was recently rejected by the Bureau of Land Management due to the two-year moratorium already in effect.
 
 

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