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May 11, 2021

US BLM to reconsider decision to renew 13 prospecting permits

The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has agreed to reconsider its decision to renew 13 mining permits in Minnesota.

According to the agreement signed with conservation groups, BLM will undertake a scientific ecological review of the potential dangers from extending the Twin Metals’ mining exploration permits at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

The four-year extension of the prospecting permits was approved in May 2020 by former President Trump.

These permits allowed the mining firm to expand the sulfide-ore copper mine at the edge of the Boundary Waters, one of the most-visited wilderness areas in the US.

Opposing the permit extension, conservation groups comprising Center for Biological Diversity, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, and The Wilderness Society, filed a lawsuit against BLM in US District Court in Washington, DC, in August 2020.

The group claimed that BLM failed to consider the potential harm caused by Twin Metals’ mine plan, mineral leases and permits to the critical resources of the Boundary Waters watershed.

However, the BLM agreed to undertake certain activities to settle the lawsuit and would issue a new decision.

These activities include seeking public comment and undertaking analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act, and consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service about the potential risks to endangered species.

In a press statement, the Center for Biological Diversity said: “After the required environmental analysis and endangered species consultation, the Forest Service will have the authority to not consent to the permit extensions and the BLM, as the regulator of the mineral estate, will have the authority to cancel them.”

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