Reuters has reported that a U.S. judge has declined a proposal from Antofagasta subsidiary Twin Metals for the revival of a Minnesota copper-nickel mine that had previously been blocked by the presidential administration over waterway pollution concerns.
The report said that the $1.7 billion underground project, adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, would have been one of the biggest sources in the country of metals to supply the clean energy and EV battery sectors.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on September 7 dismissed Twin Metals’ initial 2022 lawsuit for the project to advance. That suit challenged the U.S. Interior Department’s decision earlier that year to cancel leases which, according to Reuters, it said were illegally renewed despite U.S. Forest Service objections that mining could pollute the wilderness’s streams and lakes with potentially toxic waste.
Cooper said his court lacks jurisdiction over Twin Metals’ claims under the Administrative Procedure Act, because the rights allegedly violated by the government stem from the terms of its leasing contract with the U.S. government – not procedural legal rights outlined in that law, the report noted.
Additionally, the judge reportedly said the claims should have been brought under the Tucker Act.
Neither party commented on the decision to Reuters, and neither have made public comments.
The leases were initially granted in 1966, passing through the hands of successor companies over the years, but no mining has taken place at the site. Twin Metals acquired the leases in 2011 and sought to renew them in 2012. While the request was denied in 2016 by the Obama administration, the Trump administration reversed course and renewed the leases in 2019, which the Biden administration canceled in 2022.
The case is Twin Metals Minnesota LLC et al. v. United States of America et al., U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, case No. 1:22-cv-02506.