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Copper-nickel mining near the Boundary Waters

Chile´s Antofagasta Plc will push ahead with permitting for a copper-nickel mine in Minnesota after the Trump administration overturned an Obama-era decision to protect the Boundary Waters wilderness area.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Department of Interior had refused to renew mineral leases owned by Antofagasta subsidiary Twin Metals in Minnesota, citing potential environmental damage to nearby protected areas, but on Friday it reversed course.

President Donald Trump has vowed to sweep away regulations he says cost America trillions of dollars with no public benefit ...

Last week, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke launched an initiative to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign supplies of critical minerals, calling for increased domestic exploration and mining. Twin Metal´s proposed underground mine would border the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Superior National Forest, but still needs dozens of environmental permits before it can be constructed, according to the company´s website.

Perhaps coincidentally, Trump's elder daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner — both top White House advisers — are paying $15,000 a month to rent their six-bedroom home in the nation's capital from Andrónico Luksic, who owns Antofagasta Plc. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Chilean billionaire bought the house just after the November 2016 election for $5.5 million ... A White House official said Friday that Kushner and Ivanka Trump "were not aware of the situation, had nothing to do with it and have never met their landlord." A White House spokeswoman said in March that the family was paying "fair market value" for the home. The pair weren't aware of Luksic's U.S. business interests at the time they agreed to rent the house, she has said.

"This shameful reversal by the Trump Administration shows that big corporate money and special interest influence now rule again in Republican-controlled Washington, said Gov. Mark Dayton. "We will have to uncover why the financial interests of a large Chilean corporation, with a terrible environmental record, has trumped the need to protect Minnesota's priceless Boundary Waters Canoe Area."

Some business and labor groups, on the other hand, support copper-nickel mining in hopes it will create jobs and improve the economy of northeastern Minnesota.

Things are heating up on the Iron Range. Stay tuned.

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