PolyMet files first major mine permit applications

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, July 12, 2016

By Dan Kraker

MPR News/90.1 FM

PolyMet Mining has submitted its first three major state permit applications, which it’s calling “another important milestone” in its bid to open the first ever copper-nickel mine in Minnesota.

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The company submitted a nearly 1,900 page application with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for its water quality permit. It also applied to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for a water use permit and a dam safety permit for the tailings basin where the company would deposit mine waste left over from processing.

“We recognize that water is one of Minnesota’s most valuable resources,” PolyMet CEO Jon Cherry said in a statement. “We have taken extra time and effort to ensure that our permit applications detail the ways in which we will protect this resource and meet the various regulatory standards.”

But opponents of the project say it is just another step in a process that could drag out two to three years before Minnesota ultimately decides whether to approve a project that promises an economic revival to northeast Minnesota, but also unprecedented environmental risks.

“PolyMet submits applications, but that doesn’t indicate any kind of approval by the agencies,” said Kathryn Hoffman with the environmental coalition Mining Truth. “The agencies need to review the applications, declare the applications complete, and then decide what kind of public process there will be on these permits.”