Forest Service seeks public input for mining lease renewals

Staff report

The U.S. Forest Service has announced a 30-day period for public input and a listening session to better understand public views related to two proposed mining lease renewals.

The leases are currently held by Twin Metals Minnesota and are located within the same watershed as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) on the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota.

On June 6, 2016 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requested that the Forest Service provide a decision regarding the renewal of the leases. The public input period and listening session will help Forest Service decision makers improve their understanding of public views related to the leases.

A final determination on approving renewals has not been made. However, the Forest Service is concerned by the location of the leases within the same watershed as the BWCAW, and by the inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other mining operations within that watershed. Those risks exist during all phases of mine development, implementation and long-term closure and remediation.

Based on concerns, the Forest Service is considering withholding consent for lease renewal. A response letter to the BLM with the Forest Service’s final consent determination will be sent following the close of the public input period and the agency’s examination of the issue.

The public input period begins June 20, 2016 and runs through July 20, 2016. Comments may be mailed to the Superior National Forest, 8901 Grand Ave. Place, Duluth, MN 55808; or emailed to

A listening session will be held July 13 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and will be live streamed on the Internet. The session will begin with a short presentation to describe the status of the leases, and the determination to be made regarding consent. Due to the anticipated high level of interest, the opportunity to provide a verbal comment during the listening session will be based on a lottery system in order to objectively identify attendees who will be given the opportunity to provide a three-minute oral presentation. Written input will not be accepted at the session.

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2016-06-18 digital edition

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