It’s Time for the Biden Administration to Walk the Talk on Domestic Mining of Critical Minerals

June 7, 2023

Saint Paul, MN – In response to the United States Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to revoke the NewRange Copper Nickel section 404 water permit, Joel Smith, President and Business Manager of LIUNA Minnesota and North Dakota released the following statement.

“It’s time for the Biden Administration to walk the talk on domestic mining of critical minerals to combat climate change and protect national security. One of the most important contributions Minnesota can make to the fight against climate change and keep America safe is leading the world in the responsible production of copper, nickel and other precious metals. 

“Without reliable supplies of copper, nickel and other critical minerals, our leaders’ climate goals will be little more than empty promises. It is impossible to build electric vehicles, battery storage, wind turbines or solar panels without these metals, which should be mined responsibly right here in Minnesota.

“Our union supports clean energy and domestically mining critical materials in ways that ensure strong labor and environmental protections. Unless we mine these minerals here in Minnesota, they will be mined in other countries with weak environmental and labor protections and fewer local benefits. It is past time for the Biden Administration to back up their words on the need to mine critical minerals with actions.”

Northern Minnesota is home to one of the largest undeveloped mineral deposits in the world, containing more than four billion tons of copper, nickel and precious metals. The Duluth Complex holds 34 percent of the United States’ copper, 88 percent of our cobalt, and 95 percent of our nickel.

The Corps’ decision will destroy jobs and economic opportunity for LIUNA members, families and communities across Northern Minnesota, while leaving downstream waters more polluted than if the proposed NewRange Northmet project moved forward. Worst of all, the decision will exacerbate critical mineral supply problems, jeopardizing many more jobs and slowing the global transition to clean energy.

On February 28, 2022, in “Remarks by President Biden on Rebuilding Our Manufacturing to Make More in America” President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act and announced significant federal investment in order to bolster domestic production and mining. In announcing this action, President Biden made clear that “Made in America” means using “products, parts, and materials, as well as minerals right here in the United States of America”, and that it “takes a federal government that doesn’t just give lip service to buying America[n] but actually takes action”.

The NewRange Northmet project has been undergoing state and federal environmental review and permitting for almost two decades. The project is the most studied mine project in Minnesota history.

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