Interior decision calls for mining at Boundary Waters Wilderness

May 2, 2018

Imagine a sulfide-ore copper mine at the end of this amazing paddle.

Alan Strakey, flickr. No alterations permitted.

The Wilderness Society opposes a decision issued Wednesday by Trump’s Interior Department to reinstate two expired mineral leases at the edge of  America’s most visited wilderness area.

Foreign owned mining company Twin Metals Minnesota hopes to develop a sulfide-ore copper mine on the leases in the Superior National Forest next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.

Statement by Drew McConville, Sr. Managing Director, Government Relations, The Wilderness Society:

“The Trump Administration and Secretary of the Interior Zinke have made it clear time-and-again that exploiting our public lands for profit is more important than protecting clean water, recreation and wildlife. This is the latest example of President Trump selling out our public lands for private interests – a foreign mining company in this case.

“Moreover, the agency’s attempt to breathe new life into leases that expired almost a year and a half ago does not appear to be lawful. We evaluate the agency’s action closely.”

The Obama Administration had taken steps to prevent one of the most polluting industries in the world, sulfide-ore copper mining, from setting up shop on the edge of the Boundary Waters. Today’s decision reverses course and paves the way for destructive sulfide-ore mining that will almost inevitably lead to contamination of the Boundary Waters’ pristine lakes and rivers.

The decision is an end-run around the Forest Service, which is charged with protecting the wilderness area’s world-class resources. The Forest Service has withheld its consent to sulfide-ore mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. The decision also eliminates the public role in considering whether forest lands belonging to all Americans should be turned into an industrial mining zone.

Protected by the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a popular destination for campers, anglers and hikers that contains 1,200 miles of canoe routes and 18 hiking trails. The area includes more than 1,000 lakes left by receding glaciers and hundreds of miles of streams. These clean waters and forested lands are under immediate threat from the U.S. Interior Department, which wants to open the area to sulfide-ore copper mines.


Michael Reinemer