ST. PAUL, MINN. – Hundreds of Iron Rangers and their families are one step closer to well-paying permanent mining jobs. The long anticipated Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for PolyMet’s proposed mining of copper and nickel deposits in the Mesabi Range was released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The study was released in response to a more critical study done in 2009. The DNR says PolyMet has “substantially refined” improvements to the waste management and water quality concerns that have been raised by various state environmental groups. Specific mining project changes include the construction and operation of wastewater treatment facilities at both the mine and plant sites, enhancements of water capture systems at the rock stockpiles and tailings basin as well as other changes.
“In terms of acid drainage, the EIS does not predict that there will be acid drainage from this project. We are in a lower sulfur bearing body than many, many of the current copper nickel mines,” said Steve Colvin, Deputy Director of the Ecological and Water Resources Division with the DNR.
Senator David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) has been a long-time advocate for new mining proposals in Minnesota and says the release of the EIS is a welcome next step in the process.
“New mining opportunities provide critical jobs for Iron Rangers. We’ve always known the mining of copper and nickel would be an economic boon to our area, and now the release of this EIS confirms that PolyMet is committed to not only bringing well-paying jobs to the area but making sure they protect our environmental assets during the mining process,” Senator Tomassoni said.
The Minnesota DNR says the release of the statement kicked off a 90-day public comment period that allows the public and regulatory agencies to provide comment and answer questions. PolyMet is seeking about a dozen different permits from state and federal agencies; it hopes to get those permits by late next year.