BLM will prepare EIS on Twin Metals project

Twin Metals Minnesota announced it has received the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Notice of Intent to scope and prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Twin Metals’ proposed copper-nickel-cobalt-platinum group metals mine in northeast Minnesota.
The BLM notice formally initiates the scoping and environmental review process at the federal level under the National Environmental Policy Act, which will allow for a thorough analysis of the potential impacts and benefits of Twin Metals’ proposed project.
Multiple federal agencies and tribal governments will be engaged in the process, and the public will have several opportunities to participate through comment periods.
A parallel environmental review process will be led by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The BLM determined Twin Metals’ proposal to be complete in late May after the company responded to comments from federal agencies on its initial mine plan submittal.
“This is a standard but significant step in the process,” said Julie Padilla, Twin Metals Chief Regulatory Officer.
“It signals that the federal government is moving ahead with its regulatory review, which we expect will take a number of years to complete and should include any relevant data from previous studies. We look forward to contributing a decade’s worth of data collection and analysis to support the BLM’s process, which will also include input from the public, coordination with state and federal agencies, and tribal governments.”
The BLM released information on how the process will proceed.
“Under President Trump’s leadership and direction from the Secretary, this proposed mine may reduce the vulnerability to disruption of critical mineral supplies. If the plan of operation is approved, you can rest assured knowing that development and production of critical minerals is done in an environmentally responsible, regulatory-consistent, and economically feasible manner,” said William Perry Pendley, Deputy Director for Policy and Programs, Exercising the Authority of the Director, BLM.
Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) submitted a proposed operations plan for a mine to produce copper, nickel, cobalt, and precious metals.
The BLM, in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service, is preparing a detailed Environmental Impact Statement to thoroughly analyze the potential environmental impacts of the proposed mine.
Public involvement at the scoping and draft EIS phase is an important part of the environmental review process. The Bureau is in the process of determining when and where it will hold public scoping meetings. Once a decision is made, public notifications will be announced in the Duluth News Tribune and the Star Tribune.
In addition to the proposed mine plan of operations, TMM also has a pending preference-right lease application from existing prospecting permits. The BLM anticipates that the analysis of environmental impacts from issuing or denying this lease will overlap with the analysis of impacts from the development of the mine, and the Bureau will consider both the preference-right lease action and the proposed mine in the same EIS.
The proposed mine plan of operations and maps showing the locations of the proposed mine, existing leases, and requested preference-right lease, and shapefiles showing the locations of areas proposed for development can be found at https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1503233/510.
“Interior will prepare a detailed EIS to analyze the potential environmental impacts from the proposed mine and the issuance of the new proposed lease,” stated Pendley. “The Bureau is entrusted with managing these onshore federal mineral resources on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield, which includes facilitating their development while also mitigating environmental impacts,” he added.
The BLM will be assisted in reviewing these proposed actions by other cooperating agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa; the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; and the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa.
While the Bureau will not be preparing a joint EIS with the state of Minnesota, which announced on Nov. 22, 2019, that it will prepare an independent, state-only EIS for the proposed project, the Bureau will continue to work cooperatively with the state.
“Reducing potential duplication of effort, as well as coordinating reviews of the project, especially on data submittals, analytic approaches, and public participation will be mutually beneficial,” Pendley added.
Consistent with Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals, signed by President Trump on March 26, 2017, and Secretary’s Order 3359, Critical Mineral Independence and Security, mining on public lands balances conservation strategies and policies with the need to produce minerals that add value to the lives of all Americans by providing raw materials used in the manufacture of green technologies, medical aids, automobiles, smart phones and computers, and household appliances. Public comments will be solicited by the BLM during scoping of the EIS and after the publication of the draft EIS.
Twin Metals formally submitted its mine plan on December 18, 2019, following more than a decade of engineering, environmental and engagement work.
The submittal kicked off a multi-year, multi-agency environmental review process that will thoroughly evaluate all aspects of its proposed project.