Skip to main content

DNR gives green light to PolyMet mine in northeast Minnesota

The project is opposed by eco-groups over pollution fears..

The Minnesota DNR has issued permits for the contentious PolyMet mining project in northern Minnesota.

The DNR announced the decision on Thursday, saying it's issuing a permit to mine, along with six water appropriation permits, two dam safety permits, a public waters work permit, and an endangered species takings permit for the "NorthMet" project.

The move is a significant step in what has been lengthy process for PolyMet, which wants to mine copper, nickel, cobalt and other precious metals on land near Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt in Minnesota's Iron Range.

The project would see the refurbishment of the former LTV Steel Mining processing plant pictured above.

The company still has to go through the process to get water and air quality permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and a wetlands permit from the Army Corps. of Engineers.

The permits approved by the DNR will allow PolyMet to operate open pit mining of 1.2 billion pounds of copper and 170 million pounds of nickel over its 20-year life.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said: "No project in the history of Minnesota has been more thoroughly evaluated.

"Based on the DNR’s review, we are confident that the project can be built, operated, and reclaimed in compliance with Minnesota’s rigorous environmental standards, which are designed to protect human health and the environment," he added.

"This does not mean that the project will not have impacts, but it does mean that the project meets Minnesota’s regulatory standards for these permits."

Subscribe: Sign up for our daily newsletters

Throughout the process, the state has had to weigh up the potential environmental impacts from the project with the boost to the economy in the state's Iron Range.

In the wake of the announcement, the environmental group Duluth for Clean Water said that the project is "bad for Minnesota and absolutely terrible for Duluth." said co-founder John Doberstein.

Doberstein says his organization will continue to fight the plans, including through legal challenges if necessary.

Meanwhile, the Center for Biological Diversity told MPR the project would pollute the headwaters of Lake Superior and "destroy huge swaths of the Superior National Forest that are critical to lynx, wolves and moose."

Next Up

Great Dane Rescue and Sanctuary

Emaciated Great Danes rescued after being found living in minivan

Great Dane Rescue of Minnesota and Wisconsin posted that two of the dogs are in "rough condition" and "barely hanging on."

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.28.52 AM

2 years since George Floyd's killing, Biden signs exec order on policing

The signing comes on the second anniversary of Floyd's murder by police in south Minneapolis.


Lutsen Mountains owner to buy Michigan ski resort

The Skinner family has operated alpine ski areas in the Midwest for 60 years.


Mayo Clinic, CDC address concerns over monkeypox in the US

The CDC does not currently think there is a significant threat to the general public.

police tape

Charges: Man killed brother, left body in homemade camper for 7 months

James Robert Hess, 48, faces second-degree murder charges for the death of his 52-year-old brother, William Harold Hess Jr.


Minnesota forecast: Hot, humid and severe storm chances

Bring Me The News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard says right now the best chance for storms looks like Sunday/Sunday night.

Thai Cultural Council of Minnesota

Minnesota's biggest Thai festival to be hosted in front of State Capitol

The Thai New Year, or Songkran, is one of the most celebrated holidays in Thailand.

police tape, crime scene

Man dies after being shot in the head in St. Cloud

Investigators believe the suspects fled the scene in a vehicle.


Uvalde school massacre: MN Democrats call for action, Republicans prayers

The tragedy in Texas has sparked different reactions from Minnesota's congressional delegation.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

St. Cloud man fires shot at police in hours-long standoff, surrenders

Shawn Lawrence Jacobs, 37, was arrested just before 4 p.m. Tuesday after he surrendered.

New baby zebra at the Como Zoo.

St. Paul's Como Zoo welcomes new baby zebra

The baby is yet to be named, and the zoo is planning an event for visitors to help with the decision.


Court orders inquiry into PolyMet mining project permit

The Minnesota Court of Appeals found "irregularities" in comments submitted by the EPA.

PolyMet gets final permit for controversial NorthMet mine

This clears the way for construction of the mine.

Leaked email calls into question approval of PolyMet mine permit

The EPA was apparently asked to keep its concerns about the project out of the public record.

polymet mining

Environmentalists, PolyMet both claim victory after Supreme Court ruling

Both sides are cheering after the Supreme Court issued a ruling related to the proposed mine in northeastern Minnesota.