State agency supports PolyMet’s air quality permit, big step forward for proposed copper-nickel mine

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 12:53 PM CST
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ELY, MN -- PolyMet’s plans to build a copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes took a big step forward Monday when the state sided with its original ruling on a critical permit.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) initially granted PolyMet its air quality permit three years ago.

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016, file photo is a former iron ore processing plant near Hoyt Lakes,...
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016, file photo is a former iron ore processing plant near Hoyt Lakes, Minn., that would become part of a proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine. Lawyers for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine and state regulators urged the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, to defer to the judgement of the state Department of Natural Resources and reinstate three critical permits for the project.(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Shortly after, legal challenges arose from environmental groups and a Native American tribe.

They pointed to a report PolyMet filed with Canadian regulators and claimed the report suggested PolyMet was considering expanding the mine to something much larger than the air permit would allow.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals considered those arguments and ruled the MPCA didn’t justify granting that permit.

In July 2021, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered regulators with the MPCA to reconsider the project’s air emissions permit.

According to the company spokespeople Monday, the MPCA issued supplemental findings supporting its conclusions for the air permit.

“As we have steadfastly maintained, the facts and science prove the project will meet air quality standards. That has never been in doubt,” said Jon Cherry, chairman, president and CEO. “This important permit moves us one big step closer to constructing NorthMet, a project that will provide numerous economic benefits to northeast Minnesota along with a U.S.-based supply of metals crucial for the transition to a greener economy,” he said.

According to PolyMet spokespeople, of 22 lawsuits challenging the project, four cases remain.

They are scheduled to be heard in 2022.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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