New lawsuit targets Minnesota’s copper-nickel mining rules – by Jimmy Lovrien (Minnesota Public Radio News – June 25, 2020)

Duluth News Tribune – Opponents of copper-nickel mining are urging Minnesota regulators to change the state’s copper-nickel mining rules to ban that type of mining within the same watershed as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters announced in a news release Wednesday it was filing a lawsuit under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act asking a judge to order the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources “to initiate a public process to amend state non-ferrous mining rules that would fully protect the water and air quality, wilderness character and other irreplaceable natural resources of the Boundary Waters” and “to prohibit sulfide-ore copper mining and related surface disturbance in the Rainy River-Headwaters.”

If successful, the rule change would effectively kill Twin Metals’ proposed underground copper-nickel mine, processing plant and tailings storage facility along Birch Lake, which flows into the BWCAW via the Kawishiwi River.

Save the Boundary Waters Executive Director Tom Landwehr, who served as DNR commissioner for eight years under former Gov. Mark Dayton, told the News Tribune that the rules, written in 1993, were outdated and untested.

“At the time, that was viewed as sufficient to protect the Boundary Waters,” but today, Landwehr said, more is known about species, water pollution and the effect of sulfates and mercury in sediments.

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