Nearly three dozen former Forest Service employees have signed a letter urging the Trump administration to back away from plans for a major open-pit mine next to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northeastern Minnesota.
Twin Metals, a subsidiary of the Chilean firm Antofagasta, wants to dig the copper and nickel mine on the Superior National Forest, just outside the wilderness area boundary.
The group of former employees, which includes Brenda Halter, who retired as supervisor of the Superior National Forest in 2016, addressed the letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
Twin Metals wants to build the mine along the shores of the Kawishiwi River, which flows into the Wilderness Area.
“Irrefutable scientific studies and all of our experience tell us that in this extremely valuable, water-rich and highly interconnected place you simply cannot have both copper mining and healthy forests, water and communities,” the letter says.
Just before Trump took office, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management refused to extend leases to Twin Metals—leases the company needs before it can move forward on the project. At the same time, the Forest Service proposed a 20-year ban on mining in the area.
The Trump administration reversed both moves.
Two years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were renting a $5.5-million-dollar house in Washington D.C. from Andrónico Luksic, a billionaire who owns a majority stake in Antofagasta.