MINNEAPOLIS (AP) –€” A mining company that hopes to build an underground copper-nickel mine near Ely is suing the federal government to try to keep the mineral rights leases it needs for the nearly $3 billion project to go forward.

Twin Metals Minnesota filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court in Minnesota. It seeks to invalidate a recent opinion from the Interior Department that the company doesn’t have an automatic right to renew its leases, which were first issued in 1966 and last renewed in 2004.

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The company says the agency’s opinion casts a cloud of uncertainty over the project. It seeks a court ruling affirming the validity of those leases.

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Twin Metals has drawn opposition because the mine would lie within a watershed that flows into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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