Agency to Review Siting Rule for Nonferrous Mines

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On Monday, October 4, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) filed a Procedural Order in Ramsey County District Court outlining a process the department will follow to review Minnesota's siting rule for nonferrous mines. The Procedural Order describes how the DNR will seek public comment and make a decision on whether the state’s existing nonferrous mine siting rule (Minnesota Rule 6132.2000 Subparts 2A and 3A) is adequate to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) from pollution, impairment or destruction from potential mining within the Rainy River Headwaters watershed.

Comments were accepted from November 9, 2021 through December 8, 2021. Since this comment period is associated with a court approved process, the comment period was limited to 30 days. The DNR is reviewing the public comments, the original record establishing the existing nonferrous siting rule, and other information available to the agency prior to deciding on a path forward. The next steps in the process - which culminate in a decision of whether the Rule is adequate to protect the BWCAW - are outlined in the Procedural Order.

Minnesota DNR requests Ramsey County District Court extension on nonferrous mining siting rule decision

In accordance with a court order, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is evaluating whether the State’s nonferrous metallic mineral siting rule adequately protects the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from pollution, impairment or destruction from potential mining within the Rainy River Headwaters watershed. The DNR is carefully reviewing over 4,000 public comments and other relevant information as part of this evaluation.

The DNR filed a request on August 10, 2022 with Ramsey County District Court to extend the September 12, 2022 deadline for the DNR to decide whether the existing rule is adequate. In the case Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness v. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Ramsey County District Court has scheduled a hearing for September 16, 2022 to review the extension request made by the DNR.

An extension would allow the DNR, as the primary regulatory authority for mining in the state, to complete its assessment of the siting rule. DNR experts are continuing a robust process that ensures careful consideration of all public comments and other relevant information, including journal articles and reference documents.

Following the court’s ruling on the extension request, DNR will provide updated information on this page.

Public Comment Period is Closed

The DNR took public comment on the following question:

With express consideration of how Minn. R. 6132.2000, subp. 2A and subp. 3A fit within the broader context of all applicable environmental protection in state and federal law regulating nonferrous mining, are the exclusion of mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) set forth in Minn. R. 6132.2000 subp. 2A, and the prohibition of surface disturbance in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Mineral Management Corridor as set forth in Minn. R. 6132.2000, subp. 3A adequate to protect the BWCAW from pollution, impairment, or destruction or should further restrictions on mining be extended to all or part of the Rainy River- Headwaters defined as HUC 09030001?

Why DNR is Undertaking this Mining Rule Review

On June 24, 2020, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NEMW) sued the DNR under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. NEMW claims in its lawsuit that Minnesota’s longstanding nonferrous mine siting rule is inadequate to protect the BWCAW. Specifically, NEMW asserts that Minnesota Rule 6132.2000 (Subparts 2A and 3A) should prohibit nonferrous metallic mineral mining (e.g., copper-nickel mining) in the entirety of the Rainy River Headwaters watershed. Currently, the rule prohibits mining in the BWCAW and prohibits mining that disturbs the surface in a specified area around the BWCAW.

At the DNR’s request, the Court issued a September 13, 2021 order sending the case back to the DNR for further proceedings. This approach allows the DNR, as the state’s primary regulatory authority for mining, to assess the adequacy of the siting rule through a robust administrative process that ensures agency experts have an opportunity to carefully consider all relevant evidence.

On Monday, October 4, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) filed a Procedural Order in Ramsey County District Court outlining a process the department will follow to review Minnesota's siting rule for nonferrous mines. The Procedural Order describes how the DNR will seek public comment and make a decision on whether the state’s existing nonferrous mine siting rule (Minnesota Rule 6132.2000 Subparts 2A and 3A) is adequate to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) from pollution, impairment or destruction from potential mining within the Rainy River Headwaters watershed.

Comments were accepted from November 9, 2021 through December 8, 2021. Since this comment period is associated with a court approved process, the comment period was limited to 30 days. The DNR is reviewing the public comments, the original record establishing the existing nonferrous siting rule, and other information available to the agency prior to deciding on a path forward. The next steps in the process - which culminate in a decision of whether the Rule is adequate to protect the BWCAW - are outlined in the Procedural Order.

Minnesota DNR requests Ramsey County District Court extension on nonferrous mining siting rule decision

In accordance with a court order, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is evaluating whether the State’s nonferrous metallic mineral siting rule adequately protects the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from pollution, impairment or destruction from potential mining within the Rainy River Headwaters watershed. The DNR is carefully reviewing over 4,000 public comments and other relevant information as part of this evaluation.

The DNR filed a request on August 10, 2022 with Ramsey County District Court to extend the September 12, 2022 deadline for the DNR to decide whether the existing rule is adequate. In the case Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness v. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Ramsey County District Court has scheduled a hearing for September 16, 2022 to review the extension request made by the DNR.

An extension would allow the DNR, as the primary regulatory authority for mining in the state, to complete its assessment of the siting rule. DNR experts are continuing a robust process that ensures careful consideration of all public comments and other relevant information, including journal articles and reference documents.

Following the court’s ruling on the extension request, DNR will provide updated information on this page.

Public Comment Period is Closed

The DNR took public comment on the following question:

With express consideration of how Minn. R. 6132.2000, subp. 2A and subp. 3A fit within the broader context of all applicable environmental protection in state and federal law regulating nonferrous mining, are the exclusion of mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) set forth in Minn. R. 6132.2000 subp. 2A, and the prohibition of surface disturbance in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Mineral Management Corridor as set forth in Minn. R. 6132.2000, subp. 3A adequate to protect the BWCAW from pollution, impairment, or destruction or should further restrictions on mining be extended to all or part of the Rainy River- Headwaters defined as HUC 09030001?

Why DNR is Undertaking this Mining Rule Review

On June 24, 2020, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness (NEMW) sued the DNR under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. NEMW claims in its lawsuit that Minnesota’s longstanding nonferrous mine siting rule is inadequate to protect the BWCAW. Specifically, NEMW asserts that Minnesota Rule 6132.2000 (Subparts 2A and 3A) should prohibit nonferrous metallic mineral mining (e.g., copper-nickel mining) in the entirety of the Rainy River Headwaters watershed. Currently, the rule prohibits mining in the BWCAW and prohibits mining that disturbs the surface in a specified area around the BWCAW.

At the DNR’s request, the Court issued a September 13, 2021 order sending the case back to the DNR for further proceedings. This approach allows the DNR, as the state’s primary regulatory authority for mining, to assess the adequacy of the siting rule through a robust administrative process that ensures agency experts have an opportunity to carefully consider all relevant evidence.

Page last updated: 13 Sep 2022, 08:55 AM