PolyMet Mining reported in early November that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its NorthMet polymetallic mining project in northeast Minnesota has been completed and posted on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website. The EIS process was led by the DNR, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was actively involved as a cooperating federal agency. Three Minnesota Chippewa bands also participated as cooperating entities.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency was actively involved in the EIS process regarding matters such as water quality and air quality, which will be the responsibility of the agency in future permitting and environmental compliance.
The NorthMet project is planned to produce 72 million lb/y of copper, 15.4 million lb/y of nickel, 720,000 lb/y of cobalt, and 106,000 oz/y of precious metals in concentrates. The EIS demonstrates that this can be done in a manner that complies with the law and protects the environment.
Following publication of the EIS, the DNR initiated a review period to ensure that the document fulfills the requirements of the Minnesota Environmental Protection Act. The DNR anticipates this review will be completed and a record of decision on the adequacy of the EIS will be issued in February.
The NorthMet project is based on two significant assets—the deposit itself and the former Erie taconite processing facilities and infrastructure—which together cover approximately 16,700 contiguous acres. PolyMet will seek permits to operate NorthMet open-pit mining and processing facilities for 20 years at a mining rate of 32,000 st/d.