ICYMI: Fact check: No, the mineral withdrawal won't affect taconite mining

Jul 24, 2023
Libby London

Contact: Libby London (612) 227-8407
July 24, 2023

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Fact check: No, the mineral withdrawal won't affect taconite mining

Local Northeastern Minnesota newspaper sets the story straight: the Biden administration’s 20-year mineral withdrawal banning mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters does not impact taconite mining, despite Rep. Stauber’s inaccurate pontifications on the matter.

ELY, MN – In a piece published Friday, July 21st, the Duluth News Tribune calls attention to the disinformation Rep. Stauber has been spreading about the Biden administration’s 20-year mineral withdrawal of Superior National Forest lands in the headwaters of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Despite Rep. Stauber's inaccurate pontifications, the Duluth News Tribune (DNT) sets the record straight that the withdrawal does not impact taconite mining.

From the DNT’s piece:

When the Biden administration barred new mining activity on 225,000 acres of federal land in the Rainy River Watershed, the decision was aimed at protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from potential pollution from copper-nickel mining, which has never been carried out in the state.

The fact that no known taconite deposits are on withdrawn lands hasn’t stopped politicians and others from characterizing the mineral withdrawal as an assault on the state’s taconite industry. They have seized on the fact that the withdrawal would ban all mining and mining activities, making no exception for taconite or other iron ores.

But they leave out the fact that there aren't any taconite deposits on the withdrawn lands, and that only two parcels in the 225,000-acre withdrawal have any iron formation at all. (The type of native iron found there hasn’t been mined in the state in almost 60 years, and is unlikely to be mined in the next 20 years, according to the Forest Service).

Still, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Minn., has referred to the land withdrawal as a “blanket taconite mining withdrawal.”

The Duluth News Tribune called the explanation by the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters accurate; the explanation reads, “The mineral withdrawal does not negatively impact taconite mining. Congressman Stauber has said that the Boundary Waters watershed mineral withdrawal would negatively impact taconite mining. This is false. There are no taconite mines on the federal lands withdrawn from the mining program, and the withdrawal area has no economically viable taconite deposits."

On January 26, 2023, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed a Public Land Order that withdrew 225,504 acres of federal lands and minerals located in the Rainy River Headwaters upstream of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the federal mineral leasing program for 20 years.

You can read the entire piece here.