Polymet review decision lingers on

(IMAGE: PolyMet Mining Company)

PolyMet proposes to mine copper, nickel, palladium and other minerals near Hoyt Lakes, processing the ores in the former LTV taconite plant. (IMAGE: PolyMet Mining Company)

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says it will need more time to finish the final review response for the controversial PolyMet nonferrous mine project.

In this John Myers story in the Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota DNR commissioner Tom Landwehr explained that the official response to the review period won’t be ready until the end of the year:

It was by far the most comments ever received on a project in Minnesota, and in some cases the issues raised required the agencies, consultants and PolyMet to rerun computer models and make other technical changes in the proposal.

The agencies are required to respond to essentially every unique issue raised in those 58,000 public comments, and Landwehr said that process has been more daunting than expected.

“We missed spring, yes, and that’s just a function of the complexity of it,” Landwehr said in an interview with the News Tribune.

It’s the first major revision of the PolyMet timetable since Landwehr last October said the document would be ready by “early spring” 2015.

An initial collection of responses will probably be available to major stakeholders by the end of summer, Landwehr said, though such findings would be preliminary.

If the DNR issues a ruling that the comments on the project have been addressed, PolyMet would be free to pursue permits for its project.

For more than a decade, this project and another called Twin Metals in Ely have mired the region in an economic and environmental quandary. Concerns over the risks of mining in these areas are held against a fervent desire for any new jobs whatsoever by local leaders and influential members of the regional press.

With contraction and reorganization in the Iron Range iron mining industry now seeming more likely, it bears mentioning that new jobs from PolyMet would likely backfill jobs lost in other mines rather than expand the size of the Range workforce as initially claimed.


  1. Independant says

    There is no doubt that environmentally this is going to be one of the most extremely reviewed projects in state history. After a process like this it should be seen as a win for the environment and the local economy if construction starts next year.

    • The idea that sulfide mining can be done in northeast Minnesota without harming the environment is a fallacy. We are now aware that taconite mining pollution (in oxide ores with some sulfur) has created a huge mercury-sulfate problem in our watersheds, with no real solutions for clean-up at this time. The economics and politics of the area is pushing to permit PolyMet, even though preliminary data projected that water treatment will be necessary for at least 500 years.
      There are just too many agency people, commissioners (IRRRB, NRRI, DNR, etc.), lawyers, politicians, and others who make really good money off mining. And they are hanging on for dear life.
      There’s a lot of propaganda out there, trying to convince us that we won’t survive without these metals–and jobs. But is there any value to clean water resources and a healthy environment? Will our mining mentality leave a place worth living in for future generations?

      • Independant says

        I have spent most of my life living directly downstream of mining and grew up fishing and eating brook trout in streams running off of Erie Mining and LTV property. I’m not sure how I have survived this long! Look, pollution concerns are very legitimate but out of curiosity would you be satisfied if all mining globally was stopped forever, or just mining in NE Minnesota?

      • Josh banks says

        I was born and raised in northern MN and it’s hard for me to listen to all of the anti mining BS that all the environmentalist have to say. Mining is the only reason that we are all here. We also have some of the strictest mining regulations that exist, so if it’s going to be done right, it’s here. If u really care about the environment, focus on the rest of the world where the regulations don’t exist. Mining isn’t the only pollution in MN either. How about all of the smog and ruining of farmland that happens in all the anti mining folks back yards. Maybe us miners should go protest all of the negatives that come out of the metro areas. Just because u want to come to the Range on occasion to do some fishing and camping doesn’t give u the right to put a stop to the only thing that keeps our economy going. Please think a little bit about all the people that are effected by all of your ignorant comments the next time u go to protest about our way of life up north.

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