Legal and Scientific Resources

Sulfide Mining – General

U.S.Copper Porphyry Mines and Water Quality (Study) A peer-reviewed study found copper sulfide mines have a severe impacts on drinking water aquifers, contamination of farmland, contamination and loss of fish and wildlife and their habitat, and risks to public health. In some cases, water quality impacts were so severe that acid mine drainage at at the mine site will produce water pollution in perpetuity.

The Most Polluting Industry in the United States (Report) A 2017 report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that metal mining accounts for half of all chemicals (such as lead and arsenic) released by industries in the U.S. That’s equal to all other industries combined.

Sulfide Mining and Human Health (Study) An examination of the long and short term effects neurotoxins — such as mercury — leached out by Acid Mine Drainage can have on on human health.

Pending Hardrock Mining Permits. A list of 41 pending mining permits within the Superior National Forest. Each represents potential copper-sulfide mining activity near the BWCA.

Economic Impact of Mining

Economic Harm of Sulfide Mining (Harvard Study) A 2018 study out of Harvard University examines the long-term economic harm copper-sulfide mining would have on communities surrounding the Boundary Waters.

Regional Economic Impact of Boundary Waters Wilderness Visitors (Economic Study) A close look at the wilderness economy that has been created by the Boundary Waters and how sulfide mining would harm this viable, sustainable economy.

The Economic Anomaly of Mining (Study) A fascinating look at what economist have dubbed the “resources curse.” Extractive industry bring some high paying jobs to an area, but overall create impoverished, fractured communities.

Will Sulfide Mines Bring Employment and Economic Benefits to Northern Minnesota? (Report) Proponents of sulfide mining in Minnesota often cite the number jobs and economic benefits these mines will bring. This report questions those claims.

Economic Costs of Copper Mining (Study) An important economic study into many of the myths surrounding copper mining economy in Arizona, including a look at how production has increased while labor numbers have decreased.

Twin Metals

Evidence of Acid Mine Drainage (Technical Memo). In 2010, near an a site where INCO did exploratory drilling in the 1970s, Friends found evidence of sulfuric acid leaking into the ground. This shows that even a relatively minimal amount of drilling can produce sulfuric acid that pollutes nearby water systems. [click here for picture]

Congress questions the motives behind ending the mining study. 11.28.19

Open Letter from Forest Service Officials. 3.1.2019. In which more than two dozen Forest Service Officials voice their opposition to Twin Metals’ mine and how the Trump administration has bowed to pressures from a foreign corporation.

Twin Metals Lawsuit – Federal

Legal reasoning not to renew Twin Metals’ Mineral Leases (Memo)

The U.S. Forest Service’s decision that denied the application for renewal

Friends of the BWCA vs. BLM (Complaint) 6.25.2018. After the Trump administration illegally moved to reinstate Twin Metals’ expired leases, Friends and our partners sued.

Motion for Summary Judgement (Court Brief) 4.17.2019. A big step forward in our case.


PolyMet Economics. 10.31.2018. A letter from consultants hired by Minnesota DNR that details numerous financial problems with PolyMet, problems that, ultimately, Minnesota taxpayers will have to bear.

Understanding PolyMet’s Risk to Minnesota’s Taxpayers (PowerPoint). Slide deck for a presentation by three financial experts on how Minnesota’s taxpayers would be stuck paying the cleanup bill.

Letter investigating EPA’s secrecy regarding PolyMet. 2.25.2019. Representative Betty McCollum looks into why communications about the EPA’s concerns over PolyMet disappeared.

Wastewater Permit scandal

Annotated copy of the complaints regulators had with the permit, which were subsequently suppressed by EPA and MPCA.

Letter from legislators asking Gov. Walz to investigate PolyMet and the MPCA.

Court Documents

Challenging Minnesota’s Nonferrous Mining Rules (Legal Brief). 5.16.2019. Minnesota’s non-ferrous mining rules, which govern sulfide mining in the state, are really guidelines that can be interpreted and manipulated by the DNR Commissioner, a non-elected official who may not have the needed expertise or understanding in the area of sulfide mining.

Order to Stay PolyMet’s Permit. Citing significant post-permitting issues – that the dam that failed in Brazil is similar to the dam design here and that Glencore will be the actual mining operator and is not a permittee — Minnesota Court of Appeals issues an order to stay PolyMet’s permits.