US federal officials are currently seeking input on a plan that would essentially stall mining developments in Ely, Minnesota for two years. In fact, it is said that implementing the plan would ban mining activities for as long as 20 years. Now, the public is given a 90-day period to provide comments.
The issue started when the Forest Service announced a proposal in December 2016 to take more than 234,000 acres of Superior National Forest land out of circulation for new mining projects. This is to conduct scientific analysis of the potential impact mining activities can have on the environment. Opponents who have sought the “timeout” specifically argue that mining copper and nickel would contaminate waterways and eventually destroy tourism in the region.
At the same time, the Forest Service rejected the petition by Twin Metals Minnesota to renew its mining exploratory leases. While many people see the agency’s decision as necessary, the company believes otherwise. In a statement, the company indicated:
“It is strongly opposed to the federal government’s proposal to withdraw more than 230,000 acres of federal land and minerals in Northeast Minnesota from future leasing, exploration and development.
“The withdrawal of federal minerals from future development, and the related impacts of negating future development of state and private minerals, will have a devastating impact on the region’s economy, eliminating the promise of thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars in local investment.”
Representative Rick Nolan also stated that the agency’s actions will waste taxpayers’ funds and then promised to do his part in reversing the decision.
During the “timeout” period, there will be no new mining developments or exploration while the environmental analysis is conducted by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.