Skip to main content

Cost and controversy mount for mine in Northeastern Minnesota

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

New details about the environmental impact of the proposed Polymet copper-nickel mine in Northeastern Minnesota have added fuel to the arguments on both sides of the controversy.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that wastewater run-off from the site will require treatment to remove sulfate and metals for at least 500 years.

Bruce Richardson, a PolyMet spokesman, said that new technology can address potential problems. Polymet and the state must find a way to fund environmental mitigation. He estimates the cost “will be between $50 million and $90 million in the first year of operations and grow to between $120 million to $170 million in the 20th year of operations.”

According to the Star Tribune, state regulators said long-term costs will run into billions of dollars. Some reports predicted the state will have to treat runoff from the site forever.

“What they are saying is we have to treat in perpetuity,” said Dave Chambers, a geophysicist with the Center for Science in Public Participation, a Montana consulting nonprofit that has examined the PolyMet review. “And you can make mistakes. Those mistakes can and have cost a lot of money.”

Critics argue the environmental costs and the costs of mitigation are not worth several hundred jobs to be created over 20 years.

But proponents say the metals are necessary for smart phones, laptops, and batteries that power many "green" projects, and there are feasible ways to address potential damage. Many iron rangers say projects like Polymet are key for the region to make an economic comeback.

Polymet wants to build the state-s first hard-rock precious metals open pit mine in Babbitt and a processing plant at the old LTV site in Hoyt Lakes. The company has been working with federal and state regulators for years to develop a plan to mitigate environmental effects.

The draft environmental impact statement is expected to be released for public comment in November.

Next Up

unnamed

Walker, The Current announce end of Rock the Garden festival

The Walker Art Center and Minnesota Public Radio announced the festival will retire so the organizations can dream up new events.

Screen Shot 2022-09-28 at 9.05.52 AM

Able Seedhouse + Brewery in NE Minneapolis to close

The brewery and its onsite food truck, Animales Burger Co., will both be open for their last day on Saturday.

Lake Minnetonka

Police investigate spate of car break-ins on south Lake Minnetonka shore

The South Lake Minnetonka Police Department received reports that cars in Shorewood and Excelsior were broken into Tuesday morning.

ambulance

1 dead, 3 injured in crash involving tractor and SUV

The man driving the tractor was killed in the crash.

University of minnesota sign

U of M gives some students 50% off meals for September after complaints

Students have complained about an array of issues surrounding dining halls.

image

Gallery: Sprawling estate near Superior National Forest listed for $2.9M

The property has been in the same family for over 60 years.

Screen Shot 2022-09-27 at 2.51.49 PM

Surgery clinic proposed to replace 111-year-old farmhouse in Eagan

A developer is proposing to transform the remnant farm property.

Hurricane Ian

Why Hurricane Ian could be catastrophic in Florida

Hurricanes are the atmosphere’s biggest show of force and energy, and Hurricane Ian is no exception.

image

Suspect arrested after man and dog shot on St. Paul's East Side

The shooting happened around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.

MissingBemidjiTeenBCA

Bemidji police appeal to find missing teenager

Tahlia Poitra was last seen Wednesday.

PacoAndLime

Crisp & Green owner launches new chain, with 12 MN locations planned

Steele Brands already owns and operates Crisp & Green and Stalk & Spade.

Related

Court orders inquiry into PolyMet mining project permit

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