The Biden administration has cancelled two federal mineral leases in Minnesota for a copper-nickel-cobalt-platinum mine, a move that likely kills the Twin Metals Minnesota project in a major win for environmentalists and a blow to US domestic mining, Kallanish reports.

The main issue has been the proximity of the planned $1.7 billion mine to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) that covers 1 million acres near the US-Canada border and the alleged threat of the mine to that area. The company says the mine is not a threat to the BWCAW.

The company called the lease cancellation by the US Department of the Interior “disappointing but not surprising given the series of actions the administration has taken to try and shut the door on copper-nickel mining in northeast Minnesota.”

It adds: “We will challenge this attempt to stop our project and defend our valid existing mineral rights. We expect to prevail. This is not about law; this is a political action intended to stop the Twin Metals project without conducting the environmental review prescribed in law.”

Twin Metals, an Antofagasta Plc subsidiary, says it spent 10 years preparing the plans before submitting them to federal and state regulators two years ago. It says it is confident that a full environmental review would approve the Twin Metals project. That review was underway.

The Biden administration’s decision pitted conservation-environment interests against expanded domestic mining for electric vehicle battery minerals, and mining lost this round, according to some observers.

The leases that were first granted in 1966 were cancelled by then-president Barack Obama in 2016. But then-president Donald Trump reversed that decision in 2018. The leases were confirmed previously by a federal judge. The leases were improperly renewed, says Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in cancelling the leases.