- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - PolyMet has formally applied for a permit with the Department of Natural Resources to build a copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

The application is a key step in the process to build the proposed mine near Babbitt, and now triggers an extended review of the company’s finances and the project’s potential environmental impact.

In March, the DNR approved the project’s final environmental review, which paved the way for this permit application. The DNR tells Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/2eEGPYx ) it’s the first copper mining permit application in Minnesota’s history, and the review will take months.

While supporters say the mine would bring new jobs to northeastern Minnesota, environmental groups and local Indian tribes have worried that approving it could lead to other mines in the area. The groups also have been critical of the DNR’s environmental review, saying it relied on flawed data provided by PolyMet contractors and underestimates the potential for water pollution.

PolyMet said Thursday that the permit is the last of the major permit applications it had to submit, after filing its water-related and air quality permit applications to the DNR and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency earlier this year.

PolyMet CEO Jon Cherry said in a statement that the application is the product of more than a decade of independent and peer-reviewed scientific studies and analysis. It includes plans for wetland replacement and financial protections.

“It demonstrates in detail, the numerous steps we would take to ensure the mine operates in an environmentally responsible and safe manner, meets the high standards and expectations we and others have set for the project, and that there will be funds set aside to ensure that taxpayer dollars will not be needed for reclamation,” he said.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org

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