DNR Mineral Leases Rejected for First Time in 29 Yrs.
Minnesota's Executive Council on Wednesday voted 5 to 0 to kick back 77 mineral leases to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)-marking the first time in nearly three decades that the council hasn't approved a DNR lease package, according to a report by the Duluth News Tribune.
The Executive Council-which comprises Governor Mark Dayton, Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon, Attorney General Lori Swanson, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, and Auditor Rebecca Otto-meets each quarter to make decisions related to real estate and investments.
The council voted to postpone the lease agreements between the DNR and mining companies, stating that the DNR hadn't taken sufficient measures to notify landowners of interest in mining under their land.
The state owns the mineral rights for parcels of land that they sell to companies that can then prospect for minerals-but some landowners testified before the council that mineral exploration is expanding into areas of Minnesota beyond the Iron Range, and surprising landowners who never expected mining to occur on their property, according to the Duluth News Tribune.
The DNR holds annual auctions of mineral leases, which give the highest bidder exclusive rights to the minerals for 50 years in exchange for a lease fee and a commitment to pay royalties if the land is ever mined.
Mining supporters contend that the leases are a necessary step toward accessing Minnesota's untapped minerals and creating jobs, especially as some companies have announced plans to begin the first-ever nonferrous mining-the mining of copper, nickel, and other precious metals-in northern Minnesota.
Learn more about the history of mineral leases-and the growing disputes surrounding them-in the Dultuth News Tribune.