Minnesota’s Economic News – W/E 4/9/21
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Great news! The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has granted the final permits for the PolyMet copper-nickel project in northern Minnesota to move forward.
According to PCA:
“The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today issued the final air and water permits for PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet project in northeastern Minnesota.
“Issuing these permits comes after a years-long process that saw the most thorough environmental review any construction project has ever had in Minnesota,” MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine said. “We are confident the requirements in these permits will protect the environment and human health over the long term.”
The MPCA developed draft permits and released them for public comment on January 31, 2018. During the time the draft permits were open for public comments (through March 16, 2018), the MPCA received over 700 comments. After carefully evaluating the comments and revising the permits based on those comments, the revised draft permits were sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has federal oversight on the air and water permits. The EPA had no comments during the period allotted, and MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine signed the final permits effective Dec. 20, 2018.
The permits MPCA issued include the combined federal/state permits for water discharge and air emissions. The water permit is the key mechanism for protecting water quality. The agency also issued the Clean Water Act Section 401 certification, which focuses on wetland protections.
Stine said the permits contain numerous safeguards to assure they will fulfill their purpose. For example, the water permit requires the construction of advanced water treatment technology to meet permit limits, the installation of a seepage capture system around the perimeter of the existing tailings basin, and a robust monitoring system and annual performance evaluations. The air permit includes specific emission limits – addressing both ore processing and transport from the mine site to the processing plant – and rigorous daily, weekly, and monthly monitoring and recordkeeping requirements.”
Mining has been an important industry in Minnesota’s past and must continue to be part of Minnesota’s future. Expanded mining for copper, nickel, platinum and titanium in Minnesota could add $3.7 billion annually to our state’s economy and add 8,500 jobs throughout the state.
And remember, these numbers are conservative because they only take into account projects in the preliminary planning or permitting stages. Therefore, they do not account for the economic potential of mining the Mesaba deposit, the largest deposit of copper and nickel in Minnesota, or the potential for gold mining in Minnesota.
Read more about the potential for mining in Minnesota by reading our report, Unearthing Prosperity.