Final Polymet Environmental Impact Statement Released
After ten years of review, the final Environmental Impact Statement was released Friday for the proposed Polyment mining project near Hoyt Lakes.
The final environmental review says that wastewater from the project would have to be treated indefinitely to prevent pollution.
The 3,500 page document also said developers of the project would have to put up money to make sure that all cleanup costs are covered after the mine closes.
The document cleared up a concern for citizens, saying that mine runoff would not reach the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Voyageurs National Park.
Officials say that the mine will not cause any significant water quality impacts.
The mine will, however, have a direct and indirect effect to wetlands. The review stated that it will directly impact 913.8 acres of wetland. Vegetation would also be lost.
The Polymet project is promising 500 jobs during peak construction, and around 360 jobs once the mine is up and running.
The proposed project would pay $80 million in federal, state and local taxes annually. During operations, there would be $231 million a year in direct value added through wages and rents and $332 million in direct output related to the value of the extracted minerals.
The Environmental Impact Statement is a key step in determining if the copper-nickel extraction and processing operation can move forward.
Next up for the project is a 30-day public comment period.
The process will then head to state and federal regulators. The state will determine whether the EIS is adequate, before Federal agencies issue a Record of Decision. This portion of the process is expected to wrap up in February.
If state and federal regulators approve, Polymet will need to apply for more than 20 permits needed to develop the mine. The permitting process isn’t expected until well into 2016.
The report was put together by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service. The agencies scoured over 58,000 comments from the Supplemental Draft EIS and identified 17,000 comments which were carefully considered while completing the final EIS.
The release of the Final EIS marks the end of the environmental review process.
The controversial mine has been a topic of hot debate in Minnesota, with many speaking out against the possible environmental impacts of the mine.
Polymet officials say the EIS demonstrates that Polymet can mine and process copper, nickel and platinum group metals in a manner that complies with the law, protects the environment and creates hundreds of high-paying jobs in northern Minnesota.