ST. PAUL – State Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, said the U.S. Department of Interior’s refusal to renew mineral leases on the Iron Range will have a chilling effect on the region’s natural-resources based economy and could reduce state revenue that is gained from mineral leases on school trust lands.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management announced Thursday it will not renew two significant mineral leases held by Twin Metals in northeastern Minnesota. The move directly threatens further development of a multi-billion dollar copper-nickel mine that Twin Metals has been working toward for numerous years. The area in question is south of Ely and outside Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Lueck said he is concerned the economic impact could reach much further than just the immediate Ely area.
“This is not just a Twin Metals problem, this action jeopardizes the ability of our school districts to benefit from the revenue generated by the school trust fund from trust land mineral leases that are sprinkled throughout the same area as the federal mineral leases that are in question,” Lueck said. “This decision is more than unsettling, it’s another example of extreme environmentalists effectively blocking billions of dollars in potential long term investment that would benefit rural Minnesota. It would mean hundreds upon hundreds of excellent jobs and also would ensure long term mineral lease revenue that would accrue to our state’s School Trust Fund, which benefits all school districts within Minnesota.”
Lueck is a member of the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission, vice-chairman of the Minnesota House Mining and Outdoor Recreations Policy Committee and a member of the Iron Range Resource and Rehabilitation Board.