Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Public comment, objection period opens on mining draft permit

(PolyMet Mining)

The Minnesota DNR has opened a public comment and objection period on a draft permit to mine for the proposed Poly Met Mining, Inc. (PolyMet) NorthMet Mining Project.

Comments and written objections on the draft permit to mine will be accepted through Tuesday, March 6. Written comments and objections may be submitted via the state’s portal for the project at polymet.mn.gov/ or by U.S. Mail to: MN Department of Natural Resources, Division of Lands and Minerals, 500 Lafayette Road N, Box 45, St. Paul, MN 55155-4045.

Comments, written objections, and petitions will all be fully considered by the DNR prior to making a final decision, the agency said in the release, adding that they will become part of the official record and as such, may be made available for public examination.

The DNR will hold two public meetings jointly with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA will be making its draft air quality permit, draft water quality permit, and draft 401 certification available for public review and comment in advance of these public meetings:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 7
    Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt) High School
    601 N 1st St W, Aurora, MN 55705
    4-9 p.m. Open house
    6-9 p.m. Public comment forum
  • Thursday,  Feb. 8
    DECC – Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
    350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802
    1-9 p.m. Open house
    6-9 p.m. Public comment forum

Comments and written objections will be accepted at these meetings.

According to the DNR release, the proposed NorthMet Project, located near the cities of Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt in northeastern Minnesota, would create an open pit copper, nickel, cobalt and precious metals mine with stockpile areas; refurbish a portion of the former LTV Steel Mining Company (LTVSMC) processing plant and construct a new hydrometallurgical facility; construct a tailings basin facility on the site of LTVSMC existing tailings facilities; and add to existing utility infrastructure and rail lines. The draft permit to mine details the comprehensive terms and conditions, including financial assurance, developed to ensure that the project is designed, constructed, operated, reclaimed, and closed in a way that meets state standards.

The draft permit to mine includes a wetland replacement plan, which the DNR has deemed complete. The wetland replacement plan is currently under review by the DNR and has been sent to the technical evaluation panel (TEP) for review. The DNR will also accept comments from the public on the draft wetland replacement plan as part of the draft permit to mine comment process.

Before proceeding with the proposed NorthMet Mining Project, PolyMet must obtain a total of 12 DNR permits as well as other state, federal, and local permits and approvals. The DNR permits and approvals that are needed include the permit to mine (including financial assurance and wetlands replacement), water appropriation permits, dam safety permits, public waters work permit, burning permit, and an endangered species takings permit. A timeline of the permitting process is available from the DNR’s PolyMet webpage.

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