MN Supreme Court Decision Delays PolyMet Mine
ST. PAUL, Minn.– The Minnesota Supreme Court made a major ruling on Wednesday, which could have a big impact on the future of the proposed $1 billion PolyMet copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes.
The justices confirmed a lower court’s decision to reverse PolyMet’s “permit to mine” for now, adding that the DNR should now set a fixed time period for the permit rather than keeping it open ended.
The court also ordered the DNR to hold a contested hearing to find more information on whether the mine’s water basin would work to keep pollution contained.
PolyMet leadership are calling the situation a win, saying that the high court approved most other aspects of their plan that the d-n-r had previously given the go-ahead for.
“This was a very, very big step forward. Even though we have to do a very narrowly scoped, limited, contested case. It is on such a small piece of the overall permit and project. We’re excited to have that contested case and show that the design is appropriate,” said Jon Cherry, President and CEO of Polymet Mining.
Environmental organizations like Duluth for Clean Water say they’ve wanted a contested case on the project since 2016.
Leaders of the group add that it’s an opportunity to re-examine the procedures for the mine and also start a conversation with leaders like Governor Tim Walz on reforming the DNR control on handing out mining permits.
“Their concerns have been discounted by their own state agency,” said JT Haines of Duluth for Clean Water. “And beyond that, their state agency has discounted their own expert’s concerns. So yeah, I think absolutely the feeling among all of these folks is relief and we’re glad we’re actually going to get some opportunities to flesh these facts out further.”
According to court documents, PolyMet projects post-closure maintenance is likely to last 200 years after the mine closes, something environmental groups say could impact area waters.
If eventually approved, the project is expected to create 300 full-time jobs on the Iron Range.