DNR won't budge on comment period for proposed PolyMet mine

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The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told Minnesota Public Radio listeners Tuesday that the comment period for a controversial copper-nickel mine proposal in northern Minnesota won't be extended.

As MPR reports, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the comment period is already twice what the federal government requires. The period, as it stands, is 90 days and began earlier this month and lasts until March, according to the Associated Press.

Known as the Northmet mine, PolyMet wants to mine copper, nickel and precious metals over a 20-year period at a site north of Hoyt Lakes.

As the Winona Daily News notes, environmental groups want the state to extend the time for comments an additional 90 days because of the size of the project's environmental impact statement. The document is 2,200 pages long.

"But we considered some of these things that people are talking about," Landwehr said, appearing on an MPR program. "It's a lengthy document, very complicated. People are going to need a lot of time to look at it. We want public involvement, so we went to 90 days. We doubled the amount of time."

He added that public opposition alone isn't likely to derail the project. He said the mine is likely to get permission to move ahead if it meets financial and environmental standards set forth by the state.

The company is required to put up enough money to cover cleanup of the site, which is estimated at $200 million.

The DNR is holding three public hearings on the project in January in Aurora, Duluth and St. Paul.

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