Feds Deny Mineral Leases to Twin Metals

Ely Community Torn Over Feds Decision

ELY, Minn- Mixed feelings in Ely as the Federal government released its decision not to renew mineral leases for the Twin Metals mining project.

Ely Mayor Chuck Novack says, “Totally contrary to what’s in law right now. There’s a zone around the boundary waters to protect it.”

The decision came in the wake of wide spread concerns from environmental advocates as well as Governor Mark Dayton over the potential effects of copper nickel mining on the boundary waters area.

Save The Boundary Water’s Member Dave Freeman says, “(They’re) Small amounts of sulfate in the rock like there are small amounts of copper and nickel. When sulfate is exposed to air and water it creates sulfuric acid, battery acid, which has a long history of leaching heavy metals and toxins into the environment.”

Mayor Novack adds, “Our position has always been, follow the law, follow the science. If you prove it can’t be done safely, then we don’t want it either.”

Supporters of the denial say people are unaware of copper nickel mining’s devastating process, as well as the effect it would have on the nearly 45 million dollars in tourism coming into the area annually.

Freeman comments, “This is America’s most toxic industry and the boundary waters is the nation’s most popular wilderness area. Our jobs and our way of life rely on this pristine wilderness and clean water.”

Jane Koschak, owner of the River Point Resort says, “Water is the essence of the recreational and outdoor industry. We cannot co–exist with a mining industry replacing the present tourism district. Plain and simple.”

Meanwhile those advocating for Twin Metals say there was no plan submitted to the federal government for evaluation and that the project could’ve created as many as 850 jobs, as well as millions of dollars in steady revenue.

Mayor Novack adds, “Don’t forget the supportive businesses that hire people and all the restaurants, grocery stores where they spend their money.”

The federal government also stated it would take a 2 year break to do a more extensive evaluation of the area and could ban the land from any mining for up to 20 years.

Novack says, “(You) just can’t wait for government to take care of you anymore. Especially from the federal government. They come and they go, and the state government too they come and they go and they flip and they flop.”

Freeman comments, “There’s been no environmental review on these leases and so we feel that now is the right time to step back and look if this is the right place to build a mine like this.”