Submit a comment to Minnesota DNR on BWCA copper-sulfide mining

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resouces is currently considering whether Minnesota’s mining rules are adequate to protect the Boundary Waters from pollution. Specifically, the DNR is considering banning copper-sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters watershed. As part of this process, the DNR is seeking comments until December 8th from citizens and it is critical that Boundary Waters supporters make their voice heard. To ensure the DNR takes action we need you to submit a comment today. Follow the steps below to make your voice heard!

The DNR is using a different system for this comment period so each comment must be submitted individually. To ensure your comment is received, we suggest you use our suggested comment below and submit it through the DNR’s website.


Step 1: Copy the Suggested Comment Below
Step 2: Go to DNR Link
Step 3: Enter your Information
Step 4: Paste your Comment

Suggested text for the Email to the DNR (Copy/Paste)

Department of Natural Resources,

The current restrictions on nonferrous mining in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) are not adequate to protect the BWCAW from pollution, impairment, or destruction. I strongly urge your department to extend further restrictions on mining to all of the Rainy River Headwaters.

The risks from non-ferrous mining are vastly different from the traditional iron mining in Minnesota. Non-ferrous mining is the process of extracting trace amounts of copper, nickel and other metals from sulfide-bearing ores. This process produces sulfuric acid, which is the same as battery acid. In addition to acidifying lakes and rivers, sulfuric acid leaches out heavy metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and other toxins from the rock to produce acid mine drainage (AMD). Sulfate discharge to very fresh waters, such as those found in northern Minnesota, also unleashes a cascade of damaging ecosystem effects. This type of mining is so problematic that there has never been a sulfide mine anywhere in the world that did not contaminate surrounding water sources. The extreme threat to the Wilderness from this type of mining was confirmed by a 2016 U.S. Forest Service (USFS) study that found that the risks associated with the proposed Twin Metals mine were so great that USFS denied the project’s permit application based on the best available scientific evidence.

Additionally, as water does not follow lines on a map set by humans, these restrictions on mining must be extended to the entire Rainy River watershed. What happens upstream, happens downstream and the risk of catastrophic pollution failure or chemical leaching from a nonferrous mine upstream of the BWCAW, like the proposed Twin Metals Mine, is far too great to be allowed on the edge of the pristine natural resources of the BWCAW.The environmental danger posed by non-ferrous mining in the Rainy River watershed is even more acute because it exposes the singularly beautiful and pristine, but very fragile, BWCAW and adjacent areas to the threat of irreversible environmental harm caused by AMD and sulfate pollution. 

The federal and state government’s intent to protect the BWCAW for its unique wilderness characteristics was the essential motivation behind the protections the BWCAW currently receives as a federal Wilderness Area. To ensure the Wilderness remains free from pollution as originally intended, the watersheds that flow through the BWCAW must also remain free from pollution. Protection must be extended to the Rainy River Headwaters watershed by prohibiting non-ferrous metallic mineral mining in these areas.