Oberstar backs Polymet

DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar wrote a letter to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urging the agency to support the Polymet mine proposal in northeastern Minnesota. Here are two portions of the letter:

“PolyMet has earned my support from the outset because of its responsible, innovative approach to nonferrous mining and processing; the DEIS does an excellent job of describing the many steps PolyMet will take to minimize environmental impacts…”

“…Over 100 years ago, Minnesotans began mining natural ore and then used ingenuity and determination to extend our mining and processing capabilities to include taconite. Responsible, non-ferrous mining represents the next chapter in the evolution of the Iron Range; it is time to begin this new era…”

Oberstar’s letter comes on the same day that the DNR has a public meeting scheduled in Aurora. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday in Blaine (see release here). You can read the DNR’s Environmental Impact Statement on the project here.

Several environmental groups have lined up against the plan. The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness say they have several problems with the proposal:

  1. Water leaching from the waste rock piles is expected to be contaminated for up to 2,000 years
  2. The West Mine Pit will overflow at Mine Year 65 (45 years after expected mine closure), contaminating the adjacent Partridge River with sulfates and heavy metals
  3. Groundwater at the mine site is expected to exceed water quality standards
  4. Due to structural instability, the tailings basin has a “low margin of safety”

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