Public review of Minnesota's first copper mine (finally) slated

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A long-awaited revised environmental review of a proposed copper mine in northeastern Minnesota will be released in November, the Department of Natural Resources announced Friday.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that a DNR staffer says the report on PolyMet's NorthMet project in northeast Minnesota will be released Nov. 22, instead of this summer.

It's taking longer than expected for his agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Forest Service to add comments to the 1,800-page document.

For three and a half years, the Star Tribune reports, three state and federal agencies have been developing the legally required assessment of how Minnesota’s first proposed hard-rock mine would affect the water, air and land. Earlier they said the environmental impact statement would be completed by the end of this month.

In Minnesota, PolyMet’s $600 million project has been the focus of intense debate over the promise of hundreds of new jobs on the Iron Range, and the potential risk to the Partridge and St. Louis Rivers, according to the Star Tribune. It is the first of what could be multiple proposals for mining projects from Hoyt Lakes up to the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as companies try to tap into one of the largest copper nickel deposits left in the world.

The St. Cloud Times reports the project has been substantially reworked since the original version of the statement in 2009 to meet concerns of regulatory agencies and others about long-term implications of emissions, especially potentially acidic runoff when the copper-bearing rock is exposed to water and air.

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