Twin Metals Minnesota said recently that it plans to rely almost exclusively on electric vehicles for its proposed underground copper-nickel mine near Ely.

Using electric mining and support vehicles instead of diesel vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the mine by 65 percent and will reduce ventilation and heating needs underground, Chief Regulatory Officer Julie Padilla said. The company plans to acquire 65 electric vehicles, she said.

Twin Metals and the separate planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine have faced stiff opposition from environmental groups. Twin Metals has drawn additional criticism because its site is upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Obama administration tried to kill Twin Metals but the Trump administration revived the project.

Twin Metals says its design eliminates the risk of acid mine drainage, and that the copper it will produce is necessary for a clean energy economy.

Tom Landwehr with the Save the Boundary Waters campaign says that’s like putting lipstick on a pig.

“What they fail to acknowledge is that the greenhouse gasses from producing minerals here are going to be enormous,” he said.

He says most of Twin Metal’s climate impact will come from shipping and the vast amount of electricity needed to power its production plant.

Padilla denied that it’s greenwashing.

“This is the right thing to do, period. The reports that have come out this week from the UN related to the climate crisis, and the fact that we’re living it right now. You know, none of us take this lightly,” she said. Twin Metals submitted its mining plan about a year and a half ago. Environmental review and permitting for the project will likely take many more years.