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Mining group sues Dayton over Twin Metals access

Twin Metals headquarters in Ely. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

The Ely-based pro-mining group Up North Jobs on Tuesday announced it has filed suit against Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton seeking to overturn Dayton's order from last year ordering Twin Metals off state land.

Dayton, who openly opposes the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine along the Kawishiwi River near Ely, last March ordered the Department of Natural Resources to keep Twin Metals from prospecting or other activities on state-owned land in the area.

The suit, apparently filed in mid-December in State District Court in Virginia, asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment finding that Dayton violated Minnesota statutes when he issued the order. The suit also asks for a temporary injunction against the governor's order so mining exploration could resume as the state lawsuit plays out.

Twin Metals, a subsidiary of Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, just last month received good news from the federal government when the U.S. Interior Department reversed an Obama-era decision and said it would award federal mining leases for the Minnesota project.

The underground mine likely could not proceed without the federal leases that cover much of the mine area.

Federal officials earlier had said that the proposed project posed too great a risk to the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. But the Trump administration said that decision was in error.

Twin Metals and mining supporters said the company should be given the chance to develop its proposal, submit the plan for environmental review and apply for permits based on its own merits, not a generic opposition to mining near the BWCAW.

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