DNR opens comment period on rules for copper mining near BWCA

Minnesota regulators are accepting public comments on whether the state’s ban on copper-nickel mining within the BWCA should be expanded to include the entire Rainy River Watershed.

The court-ordered review stems from a lawsuit that seeks to block the proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely.

Current Department of Natural Resources rules prohibit copper-nickel and other nonferrous mines within the BWCAW. A group called Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness filed a lawsuit seeking to expand the prohibition to include the entire Rainy River Headwaters watershed, leading a court to order the DNR to review its rules.

At issue is whether the state’s existing rule would adequately protect the Boundary Waters "from pollution, impairment, or destruction" from mining upstream.

The DNR has established a dedicated webpage for the review. Comments can be made online or submitted via mail by Dec. 8.

LINK: DNR website on review of siting rule for nonferrous mines

The website notes that commenters should provide "substantive" information in response to the question posted on the page, and says that comments which only focus on support or opposition to mining will not assist the DNR.