The supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for PolyMet Mining’s NorthMet project in northeastern Minnesota has been completed and posted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. A public comment period began on December 14, 2013, and will continue through March 13.
PolyMet began the environmental review process for the NorthMet project in 2004. “The environmental review process in Minnesota is thorough and rigorous,” PolyMet President and CEO Jon Cherry said. “Our team of scientists and engineers has worked diligently with the regulatory agencies to improve the project design and complete the analysis and technical studies needed to demonstrate how we plan to extract copper, nickel, and platinum group metals in a manner that complies with the law and protects the environment.”
The nearly 2,200-page NorthMet supplemental draft EIS was prepared by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Forest Service. In July 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency became a cooperating agency alongside the three Minnesota Chippewa bands (Bois Forte, Fond du Lac and Grand Portage). The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has also been actively involved in the process, leading into its role in permitting and environmental compliance.
The NorthMet project includes utilizing the existing but idle Erie plant and associated infrastructure, originally built to process iron ore, and developing a new open-pit mine to extract copper, nickel, and platinum group metals from the NorthMet orebody located six miles east of the Erie plant. The NorthMet orebody hosts 249 million mt of proven and probable reserves grading of 0.79% copper equivalent, with measured and indicated mineral resources of 694 million mt grading 0.74% copper equivalent.