Earlier this year the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) moved a step closer to allowing sulfide mining in our state by declaring PolyMet’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be adequate. But several key questions remain that Minnesotans insist must be answered before making any permit decisions.
Will the state of Minnesota follow its own rules that prohibit mines requiring long-term treatment of polluted water after closure?
State rules require mines to be “maintenance-free” at closure, yet PolyMet’s own models suggest that after the final ore is mined, it could take centuries before the cleanup is complete.
Will the state require an upfront damage deposit sufficient to protect taxpayers and the environment?
PolyMet says we can wait until a later date to determine what it would cost to clean up the site after mining is complete or if a spill occurs. Waiting, and possibly not securing a large enough pot of money, could mean the taxpayers of Minnesota will be responsible for the cleanup costs.
Will pollution flow north to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, south to Lake Superior, or both?
PolyMet insists that any polluted water escaping the site would only flow south towards Lake Superior, but independent review of the project shows the likelihood that polluted water would flow north into the Boundary Waters as well.
Will regulators require PolyMet to show how it’ll compensate for thousands of acres of lost wetlands?
The proposed mine could destroy some 8,000 acres of wetlands and PolyMet’s plan currently does not account for how they will replace these acres. Minnesota state law requires all lost wetlands to be replaced.
It is now Governor Dayton’s responsibility to ensure these questions are answered before any permits are issued. Conservation Minnesota will keep you updated on further developments as we move into the fall and beyond.