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PolyMet is looking at permits now for its mine project near the BWCA

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We are by no means close to the project actually getting the go-ahead, but PolyMet has asked the state for the first two of about 20 permits it would need for its controversial mining project.

What PolyMet wants: Dam Safety and Water Appropriation permits, as they're called, for the copper-nickel mine project near Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes the company has been pushing for for years. PolyMet has submitted applications to get those permits to the DNR, the agency said Monday. The DNR will then review them, talk to experts with different governments, and then address any big ommissions.

If everything gets addressed, and there aren't any problems, the DNR will start considering whether to actually put together the permits. If that starts happening, they'll also begin asking the public for feedback too.

Water quality is also on PolyMet's mind

PolyMet also is looking at water quality, and what to do with discharge.

The company submitted a water quality permit application  for the project to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

What is it? It's an in-depth look at how a project will generate wastewater, how much, how polluted they think it will be, what treatment it'll get, and then where that wastewater will go, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency explains.

The information could then help determine exactly which licenses and permits PolyMet will need (and that's on local, state and federal levels).

Like the DNR, the Pollution Control Agency will review, and if things start moving forward toward drafting a permit they'll ask the public for input.

Give me background on the mine

The mine has become a divisive topic within the state. Proponents argue the mine would be done safely with proper protections in place, and it would bring much-needed jobs to the region. (PolyMet pegs the number of employees at 360.) Environmentalists say the risks aren’t worth the possible damage to the land, especially since it’s so close to the Boundary Waters.

Although slow, the mine proposal has made progress through the governmental oversight process recently, including the state approving the 3,500-page Environmental Impact Statement.

By no means does that mean the mine will be built. In addition to the 18 or so permits PolyMet needs, the DNR has said it will likely face legal challenges as things move forward.

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