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News: Top Stories

Trump Vows to Open Minnesota's Superior National Forest to Mines

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 6/22/2018 Ari Natter and Jennifer Jacobs
U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion about trade in Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst © REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion about trade in Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump vowed to keep open large swaths of lands in Minnesota’s remote Superior National Forest to mining, a move that could benefit a copper-nickel project being pursued by Twin Metals Minnesota LLC, a subsidiary of Antofagasta Plc.

Speaking at a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday, Trump said his administration would soon be “taking the first steps” to rescind a move made in the final days of the Obama administration to make hundreds of thousands of acres in the national forest off-limits to industrial activity.

“America’s rich natural resources, of which your state has a lot, were put under lock and key,” Trump said. While he promised to proceed carefully and only if the the move “could pass muster,” he added “it is going to happen, I will tell you.”

Before leaving office, President Barack Obama moved to take about 234,000 acres (95,000 hectares) in the Superior National Forest in far northern Minnesota off the table for mining exploration and other activities while a study was conducted on the environmental impact. The withdrawal requested a 20-year ban on industry activity, with a two-year moratorium to conduct the study.

The National Mining Association praised Trump’s announcement. It called Obama’s action “nothing more than a parting gift from the Obama administration to activists -- and one that was at odds with the residents, business and elected officials throughout the impacted communities.”

Doug Niemela, national campaign manager for the environmental group Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, said Trump’s move would “irreparably damage the Boundary Waters and pollute some of the cleanest water in the world.”

Twin Metals Minnesota, which is seeking to seeking to mine copper, nickel, and other minerals from an underground mine in the forest near the city of Ely, Minnesota, called Trump’s announcement “welcome news.”

“Rescinding the withdrawal proposal reinforces that existing and long-standing environmental protection standards and rigorous regulatory processes, both at a state and federal level, are the proper and valid means for evaluating mining proposals when specific project plans are formally submitted,” Bob McFarlin, a spokesman for Twin Metals, said in a statement.

(Adds company statement in final paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at anatter5@bloomberg.net;Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman, Ros Krasny

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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