Conservation Minnesota

Press Release: Mount Polley Disaster Anniversary

Released by Conservation Minnesota in conjunction with: Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness | Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy | Protect Our Manoomin | Save Lake Superior Association | Save Our Sky Blue Waters | Sierra Club North Star Chapter | WaterLegacy

August 5, 2015


SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA — On the anniversary of the Mount Polley mine disaster, nine Minnesota conservation groups called on Governor Mark Dayton to prevent a similar disaster from happening in Minnesota.

The Mount Polley mine is an open-pit copper-gold sulfide mine in British Columbia. One year ago, the Mount Polley tailings dam burst, releasing over 6 billion gallons of mine waste and polluted water into downstream pristine lakes and rivers. Called “the worst disaster in Canadian mining history,” the catastrophe has caused serious re-examination of the risks posed by tailings dams. An independent expert investigation commissioned by the British Columbia government recommended that new mine proposals end the practice of storing mine waste (tailings) mixed with water.

The letter to Governor Dayton states, “the Mount Polley Independent Review Panel’s recommendations should have been a wake up call for Minnesota. Instead, it seems that Minnesota hit the snooze button.” One year after the tragedy, the PolyMet sulfide mine proposal in Minnesota has not implemented the recommendations of the Mount Polley Independent Review Panel. Instead, PolyMet continues to propose storing their mine waste mixed with water behind a forty year-old dam, on top of the tailings and slimes from the shuttered LTV taconite mine. A simulation of a PolyMet tailings dam failure conducted in 2013 showed over 25 structures downstream could be inundated within hours of a dam failure.

The groups asked Governor Dayton to require the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to analyze tailings disposal alternatives for the PolyMet project, consistent with the Mount Polley Independent Review Panel’s recommendations.

Conservation Minnesota, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Friends of the Cloquet Valley State Forest, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Protect Our Manoomin, Save Lake Superior Association, Save Our Sky Blue Waters, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, and WaterLegacy sent the letter to Governor Dayton requesting this action to protect Minnesota from a tailings disaster similar to Mount Polley.


MORE INFORMATION: For more information on the letter, or to set up an interview, please contact Aaron Klemz at 763.788.0282 or

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