Statement: Department of Interior delivers win for wild spaces by canceling leases near Boundary Waters wilderness

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Decision on two hardrock mining leases is a reversal of Trump administration action

Environment America

DENVER – The Biden administration has canceled two leases for hardrock mining next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. This reverses a 2019 Trump administration decision to renew leases for Antofagasta’s Twin Metals copper and nickel project. The Department of the Interior determined the leases had been “improperly renewed.” 

This comes as the Biden administration considers a proposal to protect 225,000 acres in the Superior National Forest, where the Boundary Waters are located. A public comment period on that proposal ended last week.

The United States’ most visited wilderness area, the Boundary Waters’ lakes, ponds, fens and cliffs are home to a variety of species from old-growth pine and moose to wolves and hundreds of species of birds. But, as long as mines, which release toxic pollution that comes from leaks, spills and mine waste, remain in the area this wild space remains at risk. 

In response, Environment America Public Lands Campaign Director Ellen Montgomery issued the following statement:

“Mining and the pollution that comes with it have no business in the Boundary Waters. The Biden administration has made the right call in protecting this popular wilderness area. For our wildlife and every person who dreams of visiting and bringing their children to this special place, we need to keep this area safe from toxic leaks, spills and mine waste. 

“We hope this is just the start and that we can expect even more ironclad protections for this area. With an outpouring of support from Americans for meaningful, long-term safeguards for the Boundary Waters, we won’t rest until we see mining banned in the watershed.”



Environment America is a national network of 29 state environmental groups. Our staff work together for clean air, clean water, clean energy, wildlife and open spaces, and a livable climate. Our members across the United States put grassroots support behind our research and advocacy.