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Delayed by shutdown; waiting continues on environmental review for PolyMet

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There's another hold up during the environmental review process of a proposed northern Minnesota copper mine near Hoyt Lakes.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that last month's federal government shutdown caused a two-week delay in the release of a revised environmental-impact statement for the proposed PolyMet copper mine near Hoyt Lakes.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had planned to release the document to the public on Nov. 22, but now that date has been pushed to Dec. 6.

DNR officials said that the federal shutdown "occurred during the critical final review steps" for the PolyMet Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Associated Press reports that three agencies the DNR, the Corps and the U.S. Forest Service, have been working on the 1,800 page document for more than three years after the original impact statement was considered to be inadequate by federal regulators.

“We’re taking this short delay in stride,” said PolyMet president and CEO Jon Cherry. “We look forward to this long-awaited comprehensive environmental review being published and made available for public review and comment.”

He added that the publication of the document is the culmination of nearly four years of work by scientists and engineers to improve the design and complete the analysis and technical studies for the proposed mine. Cherry said it marks a major milestone in the project's development.

As part of the project, PolyMet plans to refurbish and re-commission the idled Erie mill and other facilities at the site to process ore from the new open-pit mine six miles east of the plant.

PolyMet says the mine will produce substantial quantities of copper and nickel as well as platinum group medals. It is expected to create nearly 1,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate more than $500 million in economic benefit annually.

Critics argue the chances of long-term environmental damage from the mine is not worth the relatively short-term economic benefit.

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