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Twin Metals in Friction

Cancelation of mining leases in Minnesota said to be "political"

A decision to cancel mining leases in northern Minnesota—issued by the federal government last Wednesday—is expected to be challenged by the business heading the projects: Twin Metals Minnesota.

"The federal government’s reversal of its position on the mineral leases that Twin Metals Minnesota and its predecessor companies have held for more than 50 years is disappointing, but not surprising given the series of actions the administration has taken to try and shut the door on copper-nickel mining in northeast Minnesota," the St. Paul company said in a statement January 26. "We will challenge this attempt to stop our project and defend our valid existing mineral rights. We expect to prevail."

Twin Metals Operational Headquarters are near the sites in question in Ely, Minnesota (pictured), near the United States' shared border with Canada.

In question are three high-demand metals, all of which have spiked in demand in recent years with the anticipation of increased electric vehicle manufacturing: copper, nickel, and cobalt. The three are hot commodities as companies compete over them in case of a shortage. Copper, as we know, is a crucial element in industrial electric motors, wiring, and scores of other manufacturing processes. Nickel and cobalt intersect at the electric vehicle nexus, with both being important in battery and vehicular electric motor construction. Twin Metals was adamant in its position that the decision was not lawful:

"This is not about law; this is a political action intended to stop the Twin Metals project without conducting the environmental review prescribed in law. We have proposed a world-class underground copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals mine that deserves to be evaluated through the established environmental review process."

The company's initial proposal was submitted more than two years ago to state and federal agencies. It involved "more than a decade" of engineering, hydrogeological, environmental and engagement work that "maximize environmental protection", Twin Metals continued. The statement finished by highlighting its history and commitment to sustainable methods:

"We are confident that a full environmental review will show that the science behind this modern mine will prove that we can advance this project safely under the highest of standards. Twin Metals’ mineral leases were first issued in 1966 and have been held in good standing spanning 11 presidential administrations. We remain steadfast in defending those rights and advancing our model mining project. Our commitment to the communities of northeast Minnesota and to advancing a sustainable mining project has not wavered. We are firmly dedicated to bringing much-needed economic growth to our region and the opportunity to responsibly develop the critical minerals needed for our global efforts in combatting the climate crisis."

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