By Associated Press - Monday, January 9, 2017

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) - A proposed copper-nickel mine for northeastern Minnesota has passed another milestone.

The U.S. Forest Service on Monday signed off on a proposed land swap with PolyMet Mining. The deal exchanges 6,650 acres of federal land in the Superior National Forest that PolyMet needs for about the same amount of privately owned land within the forest.

PolyMet CEO Jon Cherry calls it “a win for both parties,” giving Superior National Forest lands with better public access.

But Executive Director Paul Danicic of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness says no exchange of land “can undo the damage” that PolyMet would do to the area.

PolyMet and its supporters say the project would bring jobs to Minnesota’s Iron Range. Environmental groups contend the mine would threaten pristine areas and water supplies.

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