POLYMET MINING NORTHMET PROJECT | MN

Status | Proposed – In June, 2015, the Preliminary Final EIS was submitted for internal review. A PFEIS summary document can be found at the MNDNR website here. The SDEIS is available here. (The initial Draft EIS was rated as “Environmentally Unsatisfactory-Inadequate” by the U.S. EPA.) The Final Environmental Impact Statement has been published by state and federal agencies and draft permits have been issued. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is preparing a Final Record of Decision based on the FEIS.

As of August 6, 2019, the Water Pollution Permit has been suspended.

As of January 13, 2020, the Permit to Mine and Dam Safety Permits have been suspended. As of February 16, 2021, Wetlands Destruction Permits have been suspended. Also, see "Fond du Lac Band wins halt to copper mine," at Indian Country Today. The court process is on-going.

Location | Superior National Forest, between Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt, MN

Type of Mine | open pit – copper, nickel and precious metals

Estimated Mine Life | 20 years

Anticipated Output | 32,000 tons/day = 69.4 million lbs of copper, 9.6 million lbs of nickel, plus other trace minerals (see company website)

Concerns |

  • The low-grade ore (<1% minerals) is located in a sulfide ore body. 99% of the rock removed will be waste.

  • Waste rock will be dumped into an existing unlined waste basin. There are concerns about the stability of the 60-year old basin formerly operated by LTV. Polymet's 2-mile wide tailings basins will also be unlined. It is estimated that seepage from the basins will need to be treated for 200 years.

  • The mine and tailings basins sites will drain into the St. Louis River, a tributary to Lake Superior. The site is upstream of the Fond du Lac Reservation and other Ojibwe ceded territories. Negative impacts of the mine will disproportionatly affect tribal resources.

  • 914 acres of wetlands will be directly destroyed. As many as 8,600 acres may be damaged or impaired.

  • The U.S. Forest Service has completed a land exchange with Polymet. Polymet acquired 6,650 acres of federal lands over the mineral deposit. The Forest Service acquired 6,690 acres. (MDNR fact sheet)

 

Projected Jobs Created | 360 direct, 600 indirect (see company website)

Company Website | polymetmining.com/northmet-project/overview/

State Agency Website | 

dnr.state.mn.us/input/environmentalreview/polymet/index.html

Additional Information | The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and Waterlegacy are actively monitoring the Polymet Project.

Notes | This summary was assembled with information from the Polymet website, state agency websites and the Waterlegacy website.