Court of Appeals upholds challenge to adequacy of mining rules near Boundary Waters

Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a challenge to the state’s nonferrous mining rules.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) took public comments from Nov. 9 to Dec. 8 as part of a review of whether the state’s regulations are adequate to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. That came after Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NMW) sued the agency.

The Court of Appeals decision came after Twin Metals Minnesota, an intervenor in the lawsuit, challenged the wilderness group’s standing. The court decided that NMW met the burden of proof required for a review.

The DNR has said it will issue an initial order on whether the state’s current rules are adequate by Sept. 13, 2022.

NMW has argued the state’s rule should prohibit nonferrous mining in the Rainy River Headwaters altogether to protect the Boundary Waters. Twin Metals submitted its formal mine plan to federal and state regulators in 2019 and says its underground design would prevent any acid mine drainage and protect the wilderness.

Twin Metals was also dealt a serious blow to its plan in October when President Joe Biden’s administration ordered a mineral withdrawal study that could lead to a 20-year ban on mining upstream from the Boundary Waters. The company is appealing that decision.