Antofagasta copper mine (
by Steve Timmer
Jun 10, 2022, 10:00 AM

A little Twin Metals embroidery

Apparently believing that news from Chile would never reach the United States, Twin Metals (really Chile’s Antofagasta plc; Twin Metals is a subsidiary) flak Julie Padilla penned a counterpoint in the Star Tribune where she claimed that she, not the editorial writers at the Strib, had the facts about the safety of Twin Metals proposed copper sulfide mine in northern Minnesota. It contained this assertion, among many:

FACT: There is no potential for the Twin Metals project to impact the Boundary Waters from acid rock drainage. This is based on analysis of the unique geology and our proposed mining methods, which would be subject to review under the regulatory process.

(Just as an aside, the bedrock in the area is lava rock riven with cracks and fissures, a groundwater highway for acid mine drainage.)

Acid runoff? Won’t happen. Take it from Julie.

Or maybe you shouldn’t. Because just a few days earlier, this story was published by Reuters:

Chile starts sanction process against Los Pelambres copper mine

SANTIAGO, June 1 (Reuters) – Chile’s environmental regulator initiated a sanction process against Antofagasta Minerals’ (ANTO.L) Los Pelambres copper mine for deficiencies associated with tailings management, the agency said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“Deficiencies related to tailings management” is a fancy way of saying there was acid runoff into a “local community.”


If you read the Reuters article,  you’ll see this isn’t the first time this has happened.

This is the third time the mine has faced a sanction process, the first, in 2013, resulted in fines and another in 2016 ended with a compliance program.

I guess the compliance program didn’t work out so hot.

But this puts me in mind of two bills that have been offered in the Minnesota legislature. The first is the “prove it first” bill, which requires a mining company to demonstrate that what it proposes to do has been proven safe somewhere in the past. Antofagasta/Twin Metals would obviously flunk this one.

The other one is the “bad actor” bill, which holds that if you’ve been demonstrated to be a scofflaw elsewhere, you won’t be permitted to mine in Minnesota. Antofagasta/Twin Metals would be dead duck here, too.

Both of these bills need support and the urging of legislators by their constituents.

But marvel at the FACT, if you will, that a Twin Metals spox can bullshit with such fluidity.

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