MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -

A mining company that hopes to build an underground copper-nickel mine near Ely is suing the federal government to try to keep the mineral rights leases it needs for the nearly $3 billion project to go forward.

Twin Metals Minnesota filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court in Minnesota. It seeks to invalidate a recent opinion from the Interior Department that the company doesn't have an automatic right to renew its leases, which were first issued in 1966 and last renewed in 2004.

The company says the agency's opinion casts a cloud of uncertainty over the project. It seeks a court ruling affirming the validity of those leases.

Twin Metals has drawn opposition because the mine would lie within a watershed that flows into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.