MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service says it is concerned about a proposed copper-nickel mine near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The agency Monday indicated it might deny mineral leases needed for the $2.8 billion project. The Forest Service took the unusual step of asking for public comment on the Twin Metals Minnesota project. A public hearing is set for July 13 in Duluth.

Gov. Mark Dayton praised the Forest Service. In March, Dayton said the state wouldn't authorize access to its lands for the project.

“I commend the US Forest Service for undertaking a 30-day public comment period in order to more thoroughly review the two lease renewal applications by Twin Metals to further develop its copper-nickel mining project immediately adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. My position regarding this project and its inherent danger to the Boundary Waters remains unchanged. However, I recognize that the federal government has its own separate jurisdiction in this matter.

"I share the view expressed today by the Forest Service: 'However, the Forest Service is deeply concerned by the location of the leases within the same watershed as the BWCAW, and by the inherent risks associated with potential copper, nickel and other sulfide mining operations within that watershed.'"

Twin Metals Minnesota wants to build an underground mine near Ely that the company says would create about 850 full-time jobs. Environmentalists say the site sits within a watershed that flows into Boundary Waters.

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