Twin Metals lawsuit that sought to restart mining near Boundary Waters dismissed by district judge

September 8, 2023

A lawsuit that was filed in 2022 to revive the proposed $1.7 billion Twin Metals Mine in Minnesota was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper, dealing another set back to the project.

In August 2022, Twin Metals and its exploration subsidiary Franconia Minerals sued the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Land Management, arguing the federal agencies’ decision to cancel two of their mineral leases in January was “arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful evisceration” of the company’s mineral rights.

Although Twin Metals submitted its mine plan to federal and state regulators in late 2019, actions by the Biden administration have dealt major setbacks to the project.

“Twin Metals Minnesota is disappointed by the opinion issued today regarding a lawsuit the company brought in U.S. District Court on Aug. 22, 2022, and we are working to determine next steps. We remain committed to the communities of northeast Minnesota — as we have been for more than a decade — and to supplying the minerals required for the energy transition,” Twin Metals spokesperson Kathy Graul said in an email to theNews Tribune.

The Star Tribune reported that in the latest ruling, Cooper dismissed the case, agreeing with federal agencies and several intervenor environmental groups that the court didn't have jurisdiction to hear some of Twin Metals' arguments. For other arguments, he wrote that the company had failed to lay out a claim that could progress in court.

When the company filed its original suit, Dean DeBeltz, Twin Metals' director of operations, wrote that the company wanted “a fair and consistent environmental review of our proposed mining project.”

While Minnesota has a long history of iron ore mining, hardrock mining projects like Twin Metals is new to the state as are the concerns of acid drainage into the Boundary Waters.

In 2022, a U.S. Forest Service study found that even with safeguards in place, contamination would still be possible.

Almost exactly a year after the mineral rights cancellation, the Biden Administration also banned mining for 20 years on 225,000 acres of federal forest land — including the site Twin Metals was going to operate on.

Like the Boundary Waters itself, this protected land within the Superior National Forest is ceded by native Ojibwe people, who retain rights to hunt, fish and gather there.



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