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Biden regulator cancels mining leases near wilderness

The Biden administration said Wednesday that it has canceled two mining leases that would have allowed a copper mine to be built near a pristine wilderness area in Minnesota.

The Interior Department said it had determined that leases held by Twin Metals Minnesota, a subsidiary of Chilean mining group Antofagasta, were improperly reinstated in 2019 by the Trump administration.

President Obama had previously moved to block the mining project, refusing to renew the lease. But starting in the early weeks of the Trump presidency, the administration worked at a high level to remove barriers to the mine, The New York Times reported in 2019.

That move follows discussions between Antofagasta executives and senior administration officials. Billionaire Andrónico Luksic, whose family controls Antofagasta, also leased a $5.5 million home to Ivanka Trump, daughter of former president Donald J. Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner. when she and her husband moved. to Washington, DC

Mr. Luksic’s representatives at the time called the rental a simple real estate transaction that involved the incoming president’s family. Both Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner also said they had followed the ethics guidelines.

Antofagasta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest decision. In a statement, Twin Metals said it was disappointed by the Biden administration’s decision and would challenge it.

“We have always been dedicated to bringing much-needed economic growth to our region and the opportunity to responsibly develop vital minerals needed by the region,” the company said in a statement. our global efforts to combat the climate crisis.” Copper is widely used for cabling, wiring and other applications in the renewable energy industry.

Boundary waters, a vast landscape of protected lakes and forests along the border with Canada, provide habitat for thousands of species, including gray wolves and Canadian lynx. But mining companies have long expressed interest in the area, because below the surface there is an estimated 4 billion tons of copper and nickel ore. That is supposedly one of the largest undeveloped mineral deposits in the world.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said her department “takes seriously our obligations to administer public lands and waters on behalf of all Americans.” She added, “We have to be consistent in the way we apply the terms of the lease to ensure that no tenant gets special treatment.”

She said a new one legal opinion from the Home Office’s Solicitors’ Office found “significant legal omissions” in the cases surrounding the 2019 renewal, including violations of department regulations and incomplete environmental analysis. enough.

The mining proposal has sparked a backlash from local environmentalists, who say harmful metals and other pollution could be leaking from the area. “Today is a huge victory for Boundary Waters protection,” said Becky Rom, National Chair of the Save Boundary Waters Campaign. The leases “should never have been reinstated in the first place,” she added.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/26/climate/boundary-waters-copper-mining.html Biden regulator cancels mining leases near wilderness

Fry Electronics Team

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