Both sides claim victory in complicated PolyMet court ruling – by Dan Kraker (Minnesota Public Radio News – April 28, 2021)

Both sides claimed victory Wednesday after the state Supreme Court issued a complex ruling over state permits for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

Environmental groups and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa were quick to celebrate the ruling, saying the decision “hits the reset button” on the proposal, which would be the first non-iron ore mining operation built in northern Minnesota.

In a 48-page ruling, the court upheld the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ reversal of the Department of Natural Resources’ decision to grant a critical “permit to mine.” The appeals court said the state agency failed to set a fixed term for the permit and it ordered the DNR to set an appropriate term.

In another part of the ruling, the court sent a dispute over the mine’s waste management plan back to the DNR for what’s known as a “contested case hearing” on whether the mine’s tailings pond would effectively keep pollution contained.

But the court’s ruling rejected calls from PolyMet opponents for a broader contested case hearing on several other issues, concluding “that the DNR did not abuse its discretion” in denying those requests “because substantial evidence supports those decisions.”

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