PolyMet Hearings Draw Big Crowds, Decision Still Long Ways Off

Updated: 03/12/2014 4:36 PM
Created: 01/29/2014 6:50 PM
By: Tom Hauser

The final of three major public hearings for Minnesota’s first proposed copper-nickel mine drew another big crowd in St. Paul, just like previous hearings in Duluth and Aurora earlier this month.

The meetings were required as part of the review of the preliminary environmental impact statement. Public comments will continue to be accepted until March 13.

So far, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has received more than 10,000 comments. The DNR says it will look at every one of them before releasing a final environmental impact statement (EIS).

"We kind of tabulate and then examine all of the comments and try to determine what additional steps we need to do," says Steve Colvin of the DNR. "Whether there's any additional analysis that needs to be done, project modifications."

Once a final EIS is issued, then the PolyMet copper-nickel mine project needs more than 20 permits from a variety of federal, state and local agencies, including the DNR, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the U.S. Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Polymet estimates the mine would create at least 360 jobs in the Hoyt Lakes area. Environmentalists are concerned about what it could do to water and air quality.

Comments on the project can also be made online.

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