What comes next for Minnesota mining after revoked permit

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 5:15 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HOYT LAKES, MN. (Northern News Now) -- A major blow was dealt to a Northeastern Minnesota mining company Tuesday as their permit for a proposed copper-nickel mine was revoked.

RELATED: U.S. Army Corps revokes permit for NorthMet Mine, previously known as Polymet

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they are revoking NewRange’s permit to develop its NorthMet copper-nickel mine, formerly known as PolyMet, near Hoyt Lakes.

The Corps claims NewRange failed to meet EPA clean water standards.

Iron Range author and political expert Aaron Brown said decisions like Tuesday’s revocation of NorthMet’s permit cause a lot of emotional reaction, no matter how someone feels about their proposal because mining has become a cultural standpoint for Minnesotans.

“It’s all been kind of tied into this big, powerful cultural symbol, and as long as that’s the case, people are going to take it very personally,” Brown said.

Minnesota Representative Dave Lislegard, a DFL’er who represents Aurora, said he and his constituents are shocked by the decision.

“We are beyond disappointed, we are frustrated in Northeast Minnesota,” Lislegard said. “For this to happen at this moment, the way that it did, blindsiding, is just unacceptable.”

Northeast Minnesota’s U.S. Representative Republican Congressman Pete Stauber said the decision is a political one.

“Make no mistake about it, this was a political decision by the Biden Administration. This was their desired outcome to stop mining in Northeastern Minnesota,” Stauber said.

As for how the decision will impact mining as a whole, Brown said he’s not sure it will.

“I don’t know that there’s an immediate impact on mining overall. My read on it is it’s another reminder that there are a lot of stakeholders in this project,” Brown said.

Brown said he would suggest NorthMet go back to the drawing board and include those other stakeholders, namely, the Fond du Lac Band, whose reservation is at the center of environmental concerns for the project, in conversations regarding the project earlier on in the permitting process.

NewRange can submit for a new permit if they would like, though they have not yet said if they will.

In a statement Tuesday, they said they will be reviewing their options and continue to look for ways to develop the mine in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Click here to download the Northern News Now app or our Northern News Now First Alert weather app.