Should PolyMet build its proposed copper-nickel mine?

The now-abandoned LTV Steel taconite plant could become part of PolyMet’s proposed copper-nickel mine. The local economy never fully recovered after LVT’s mine and processing plant shut down in 2000, leaving 1,400 workers unemployed. (Jim Mone | AP)

PolyMet has been given the OK to move ahead with its controversial copper-nickel mine proposed in northeastern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Thursday said a 3,000-plus page final environmental impact statement for the project is “adequate,” so PolyMet can now start applying for permits to build the mine.

The mine isn’t moving ahead with certainty, though. PolyMet first needs to secure $600 million in financing, which could prove difficult. Its largest owner, Glencore, lost $5 billion last year. Plus, metals prices have been declining recently.

The proposed mine has been a source of tension for years, writes MPR News’ Dan Kraker:

For the past decade that process has pitted conservationists concerned about the potential for severe water pollution against Iron Range communities desperate for an economic jump-start.

Today’s Question: Should PolyMet build its proposed copper-nickel mine?

  • PaulJ

    Is this the one they have to monitor for 500 years so it doesn’t kill Lake Superior? What’s next? Building nuclear power plants near fault lines?

  • lindblomeagles

    Tough choice. Close your eyes and cross your fingers nothing happens to the state’s waterways (and tourism dollars) or provide jobs for people who desperately need them before the Iron Range becomes a ghost town. If I were Governor, I’d look for option C because neither A nor B look good.

  • Insignificant

    The down side is so great and the up side is negligible. It would be a better idea to identify the people who would be hired and pay them to do nothing rather than risk this potential catastrophe. There is no need for copper on the world market this year or in the near future and the production from Marana AZ and Australia make MN copper mining a incredibly poor decision.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Treat waste water “indefinitely” at 1 million to 6 million dollars per year? How long will it be before the environmental costs exceed the total value of the mined product? Minnesota produces more jobs in a WEEK than this project will ever produce.

  • Mark

    No.

  • Gary F

    These jobs are going boy and they aint coming back,,,, to your hometown…..

  • Ralphy

    This project is playing Russian Roulette with the environment and future of the region for a negligible short term gain.
    Gary F is right – these jobs are going away and they ain’t coming back. It is past time for all of us to rethink and reinvent the economy of NE Minnesota.

    • Gary F

      And those new non mining jobs won’t be union like a mining job and won’t pay much unless you can really find something unique.

      And I don’t see a huge appetite for big subsidies in luring someone up there.

      • David P.

        Though it could result in thousands of union jobs, I don’t see any appetite on spending billions or trillions on cleaning up the toxic destruction of the watershed.

    • cruz

      Its not even Russian Roulette. Its taking a fully loaded gun and shooting. You can’t miss… Its guaranteed, unstoppable, infinitely expensive pollution. Not a risk, guaranteed which is much worse.

  • Jon McElderry

    I have come to the Ely area for almost 70 years because the the beauty of the wilderness there. This type of mining has never been safe for the environment. If they start mining it is the last that I or my family will come here.

  • Eli

    There have been no previous mines of this type that didn’t pollute. All of them have required some form of clean up… often at tax payer expense. Privatized profits and municipalized risk is Polymet’s business model. 20 years of jobs for 500 years of clean up sounds like a bad deal for MN. This project should be scraped.

  • Bernard Schroeder

    I spend a large percentage of my vacation dollars visiting Minnesota for the clean water and unspoiled wilderness. If the Polymet mine ruins that, I and many others will go elsewhere. This will also take jobs away from the Minnesota economy.

    Bernard Schroeder

  • psannerud

    No. There has never been a mine of this type that did NOT pollute, and once our clean waters are polluted, that’s it. No undoing.

  • cruz

    No! No copper mines, no sulfide mines, no, no no! Why is this even a question when the mines would be guaranteed to pollute, and not just pollute for a day or a year, but FOREVER. All such mines have always polluted like this. So any profits (mostly going to foreigners anyways) are zero when compared to INFINITE pollution and costs to mitigate such pollution since that mitigation has to go on FOREVER. And such mitigation will not actually clean it up, just make it a little better, while destroying the life of the water and the complex minerals that were in it that were good. And of course its the taxpayers that would pay that infinite mitigation bill… So what’s the point of the mines again? To enrich some foreigners who will ditch town once the mines run out? Oh and a few mediocre at best jobs? Read up on how Glencore treats its employees and you’ll see the jobs will not be good, and there’s on a few of them for a decade. All that for permanently destroying the water UpNorth including sullying Lake Superior??

  • Katie Seitz

    No! Water is too precious a resource. And the BWCAW and Lake Superior and all the tributaries and all the waterways and our state are too smart and too good to fall for the empty promises of copper mining.