For generations, Minnesota’s mining industry has been integral to the lives and livelihoods of our communities on the Iron Range. But the future economic stability of our entire region was just put in jeopardy by the political gamesmanship of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Recently, the federal government called for a generic, two-year study that would trigger a mining moratorium and mineral withdrawal in Northeastern Minnesota. One day later, federal officials rejected preference right lease applications and prospecting permit applications for both Twin Metals Minnesota and Encampment Minerals. We can only assume this was purely political, as it is completely unnecessary to start a new generic “study” when there is now a specific mine plan on the table from Twin Metals, backed by more than a decade of scientific research.

These actions threaten to have dire consequences for our state and country. They promise to limit investment in our nation’s ability to supply materials essential for green-energy solutions and to block thousands of family-sustaining jobs in our region — key components of the current administration’s infrastructure proposal.

The minerals that Twin Metals is proposing to mine — copper, nickel, cobalt, and platinum-group metals — are abundant in Northeastern Minnesota. In fact, the deposit in northern Minnesota contains 95% of the known U.S. nickel and 88% of U.S. cobalt resources. This isn’t just mining for the sake of mining. These raw materials are essential for climate-change solutions like solar, wind, electric vehicles, and the batteries that power them.

The demand for these minerals is increasing every year as we work on a global scale to combat the climate crisis. The World Bank reports we will need as much copper in the next 25 years as we’ve mined in the last 5,000 years in order to meet the modern global demand. While recycling can certainly play a role, it won’t meet the increasing demand needed for these clean technologies. Especially when you factor in President Biden’s and Gov. Tim Walz’s recent electric-vehicle targets.

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We can’t avoid the facts. Increasing mining production for copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum group metals, and other critical minerals is required to combat the climate crisis.

So, we need to mine more, but where? Our country’s reliance on sourcing these minerals from foreign countries puts our supply chains at risk. And cobalt specifically is considered the highest material supply chain risk for electric vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

We need domestic mining to ensure these minerals aren’t controlled by countries like China and Russia. Further, we are currently depending on countries which have little or no standard when it comes to the environment, worker safety, or wages. Don’t we have an obligation to explore mining for these minerals here in the U.S. where we pay good wages, have worker-safety regulations, and enjoy the highest environmental standards in the world?

In Minnesota, we have an opportunity to be leaders in safe, responsible mining. We can cultivate an innovative mining industry that will create lasting and family-sustaining jobs while also protecting the environment — both Minnesota’s environment and the global environment impacted by climate change.

Minnesota already has some of the strictest environmental and labor standards in the world. If mining projects can prove through the established regulatory process that they can meet those standards, then they should be front and center in conversations on solving climate change.

We are deeply concerned our government is attempting to prematurely shut the door on these incredible opportunities without studying the larger issue at hand. Let these projects be scientifically evaluated under current laws. Let’s do what’s right and support investment in our future to keep our region moving forward for generations to come.

Frank Ongaro of Duluth is executive director of MiningMinnesota, an industrial trade organization of nonferrous exploration and mineral-development companies and supplier and vendor businesses, committed to copper-nickel and platinum-group minerals development and mining in Minnesota. Ida Rukavina of rural Virginia is executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools, or RAMS, a nonprofit located in Mountain Iron that has been advocating for the Iron Range since 1939.