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DOI Poised to Cut Off Vast Domestic Stores of Key Minerals


WASHINGTON, D.C.,
October 20, 2021

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requested a 20-year mineral withdrawal from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) within the Superior National Forest in Northern Minnesota. This announcement automatically triggers a two-year pause on new federal mining permits and leases in the area while this application is reviewed. 

“The Biden administration can’t even figure out a way to keep basic supply chain operations up and running, and now they are making their own crisis worse. Here are the basic facts no one in this administration seems capable of acknowledging: if you want to use a mobile phone, get your child an iPad for Christmas, splurge on a Tesla, or upgrade to the latest flat screen TV, you are dependent on critical minerals. Those minerals don’t just appear out of nowhere; if we don’t mine them here at home, they come from mines controlled by our geopolitical adversaries. American industries invest decades of research and reviews into safe, sustainable mining projects, yet the Biden administration prefers to send our jobs and business to countries like China. Twin Metals is the perfect example. This project aims to develop the Duluth Complex, one of the largest undeveloped mineral reserves in the world. Yet with the stroke of a pen, the Biden administration threatens years of hard work and hundreds of jobs in a desperate attempt to kowtow to radical environmental interests instead of allowing a fair review of the proposed project. In the meantime, our demand for these minerals continues to increase, and the Chinese Communist Party is all too happy to keep us dependent on the mines they own globally and man with child and slave labor. Shuttering Twin Metals for good is outrageous, and something every American should be fighting against.” – House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.)

“Quite simply, President Biden is putting politics over science. Nearly a year ago, candidate Joe Biden pledged to support Minnesota’s miners in their mission to obtain good-paying mining jobs, bring economic prosperity to a region that desperately needs it, and secure America’s critical mineral supply chain. Joe Biden has officially failed to uphold this promise. At the beginning of the year, I sent a letter to President Biden opposing Deb Haaland for Interior Secretary, citing concerns over her longstanding anti-mining position. Meanwhile, Biden also nominated Tom Vilsack for Agriculture Secretary, who is on the record for his opposition to mining. My concerns were met with silence from the President. To be clear, I not only place blame on this Administration, but am disappointed in our United States Senators and Democrat House members from Minnesota who have the President’s ear and either stood silently by, or actively let these union jobs go up in smoke. They are complicit in this incredibly harmful decision. I’m concerned there will be more devastating decisions ahead. Today’s announcement further proves that the Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress are incapable of doing what’s right for union members and working families across northeast Minnesota. Rather than promoting the dignity of work, they’re comfortable seeing Minnesota’s union members and skilled workers sidelined. Instead of empowering Minnesotans to develop the minerals necessary for almost every sector of our economy under the strongest labor and environmental standards in the world, they are willing to rely on hostile nations that utilize child slave labor and terrible environmental practices. This decision is unacceptable on every level, and I will not stop until it has been reversed.” – U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.)

Background

The Twin Metals project continues to undergo robust regulatory reviews and must prove it meets all environmental standards in order to earn permits to mine. Project coordinators have designed a high-tech underground mine with a host of built-in environmental protection measures. They also recently invested in an electric vehicle fleet, which greatly reduces onsite greenhouse gas emissions.

Upon completion, the Twin Metals mine would tap into vast domestic supplies of minerals like copper that are necessary for clean technologies, renewable energy and essential household products. The U.S. is the number one consumer of these vital minerals, yet it continues to rely on importing them from foreign sources. Seventy-eight out of 94 metals, metalloids and non-fuel minerals are currently imported in the U.S. 

Northeast Minnesota is home to the world’s largest known undeveloped copper-nickel deposit, yet if DOI and the USDA continue locking up additional acreage in the Rainy River Watershed, those minerals will be inaccessible for decades to come.

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