The state of Minnesota has given its preliminary blessing to the construction and operations plan for the state’s first-ever copper-nickel mine, releasing PolyMet Mining Co.’s draft permit to mine for public review Friday.
The draft permit from the Department of Natural Resources includes specific plans for how PolyMet would mine near Babbitt and process ore near Hoyt Lakes over the next 20 or more years.
The permit release signals the state is generally satisfied with how PolyMet plans to build, mine and then close the operations without harming the environment — especially without releasing potentially acidic mine waste into the St. Louis River ecosystem.
The mine permit also specifies how PolyMet will separate and store potentially acidic or reactive rock and then backfill the mine and rehabilitate the land. It also will determine how PolyMet treats wastewater that will come from processing ore at the former LTV Steel taconite processing center, possibly for decades even after mining ends.
It’s the biggest step yet for the proposed mine that’s been decades on the drawing board. But the company still must secure final permits, clear lawsuits and pass a possible contested case hearing process as well as find financing to actually pay for construction.
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