Associated Press – ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday rejected some of the most important permits for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, giving a major victory to environmentalists.
A three-judge panel ruled that the state Department of Natural Resources erred when it declined to order a proceeding known as a “contested case hearing” to gather more information on the potential environmental impacts from the mine. The court also said the agency erred when it issued PolyMet’s permit to mine without imposing a fixed term on that permit.
So the court sent the dispute back to the DNR with orders to conduct the potentially lengthy hearing, during which an administrative law judge would take testimony and sort out conflicting evidence.
Environmentalists celebrated the decision , while PolyMet said it would consider taking the case to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the DNR said it was considering its options.
At issue were PolyMet’s permit to mine and its two dam safety permits. The court suspended those permits in September because it wanted more information on how the DNR was responding to two major developments since it approved the permits in 2018. Swiss-based commodities giant Glencore took a majority stake in the project. And there was a disastrous failure at an iron mine in Brazil of a tailings basin dam that had some similarities with PolyMet’s planned dam.