Minnesota governor now supports PolyMet copper-nickel mine

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he’s moved from being “genuinely undecided” on the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine to being a genuine supporter of the project.

PolyMet has many backers because it promises 360 permanent jobs in the Hoyt Lakes-Babbitt area of northeastern Minnesota’s Iron Range, 600 indirect jobs and an annual economic benefit to St. Louis County of over $500 million. But environmentalists say it could lead to environmental disaster, citing the potential for acid mine drainage from the sulfide-bearing rocks and of spills if the tailings basin dam breaks.

“Nothing of that magnitude is risk free but I think it’s a risk worth taking and I support the project,” Dayton told the St. Paul Pioneer Press for a story published Tuesday. “But they still have to meet the environmental permitting requirements.”

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The company is in the process of seeking those permits, and the Democratic governor said he won’t interfere with state agency permitting decisions.

Dayton also said he’s working with officials to pin down the final financial assurances plan so that taxpayers won’t have to pay the environmental cleanup and monitoring costs if PolyMet goes bankrupt. Dayton said he had a meeting last week on some of those details. He said they’re building in sufficient environmental and financial protections.