- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The latest on an environmental impact statement being released Friday on the proposed PolyMet mining project to pursue copper and nickel in northern Minnesota (all times local):

3 p.m.

An attorney part of a coalition opposing the PolyMet project is objecting to a state assessment that the copper-nickel mine is environmentally sound.

Kathryn Hoffman of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy says her group is concerned about ongoing water treatment the mining would touch off and whether an adequate damage deposit would be made. She says the water studies included in the final environmental impact statement released Friday needed more independent verification.

The Department of Natural Resources is opening a 30-day public comment period next week. In a preliminary study, the agency was flooded with more than 58,000 public comments. Hoffman says she hopes that comment period results in changes to the proposed project.

2:25 p.m.

Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr says a proposed copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota meets state standards for protecting the environment and human health.

Landwehr is speaking at a news conference to talk about the final environmental impact statement for PolyMet’s project. The statement released today notes several things that must be done for the project to proceed, and starts a public comment period.

DNR environmental review supervisor Randall Doneen says it’s the most expensive environmental screening for a project in state history. He said it has cost $20 million so far, although that is to be recouped from the company.

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(CORRECTION: Corrects DNR official who supplied cost estimate as Randall Doneen not Tom Landwehr)

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1:50 p.m.

The head of Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources says an environmental impact statement for a copper-nickel mine was rigorous and objective.

Commissioner Tom Landwehr compared the statement issued Friday on the proposed PolyMet project in northern Minnesota to an inspection report before someone buys a house. He says the state turned the project “upside down, inside out and backward and forward” for how the mine would affect the environment.

The final report runs more than 3,500 pages.

The report says wastewater would have to be treated indefinitely to guard against pollution. And it says developers would have to put up financial assurances to make sure any future cleanup costs are covered.

Next up is a 30-day public comment period.

11:25 a.m.

The company proposing a copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota says completion of an environmental analysis of the project is a huge milestone in its decade-long pursuit.

PolyMet Mining Corp. president Jon Cherry released a statement ahead of Friday’s publication of the final environmental impact statement. Cherry says the review is detailed and thorough.

The company says the study “demonstrates that PolyMet can mine and process copper, nickel and platinum group metals in a manner that complies with the law, protects the environment and creates hundreds of high-paying jobs.”

An environmental group opposed to the project says it plans to carefully examine the analysis by state and federal officials. Its publication will open a new public comment period.

PolyMet could begin applying for needed permits early next year.


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