Good news: Air permits for PolyMet are upheld by state agency

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has upheld the air permit for the PolyMet mining project in Northeastern Minnesota. This act rebukes anti-mining groups who oppose the project, despite the scientific evidence that shows that mining, if properly regulated, can be done in an environmentally responsible manner.

According to the Duluth News Tribune:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Monday released an additional analysis on its December 2018 permitting decision, which the Minnesota Court of Appeals required in July by sending the permits back to the agency for “further consideration and additional findings.”

It stemmed from a legal challenge filed by environmental groups that argued a technical report released by PolyMet in March 2018 — 10 days after the air permit’s public comment period ended — outlined the company’s plans to recover 118,000 tons of ore per day instead of 32,000 tons per day — the amount listed by the company in permit applications. 

The argument of anti-mining groups was always flimsy because PolyMet would need to go through a new permitting process if they wanted to expand the scope of the mine. This would be a long and thorough process.

MPCA’s decision to stand by PolyMet’s permit moves the project forward. This is important because PolyMet’s mine would be the first copper-nickel project to operate in Minnesota’s massive, mineral-rich Duluth Complex, which is so large it could support several mines for decades of production.

PolyMet has now defeated 18 of the 22 lawsuits challenging the project, with the four remaining cases to be heard during 2022. PolyMet’s CEO Jon Cherry said, “All cases that have reached final conclusion have been in PolyMet’s favor.”

If this remains true in 2022, we may finally see construction begin on Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine despite the objection of liberal anti-mining groups.