DNR opens public comment period on draft PolyMet water appropriation permits

The Department of Natural Resources has opened a 30-day public comment period, Aug. 11 until Sept. 12, on draft water appropriation permits for the proposed Poly Met Mining, Inc. (PolyMet) NorthMet mining project in northeastern Minnesota.

State law directs the DNR to manage water resources to provide for reasonable use while ensuring long-term sustainability and natural resource protection.

The proposed NorthMet project would require six water appropriation permits for various construction and operation activities at the mine site and plant site. In addition to these six water appropriations permits, the project would also need six additional DNR permits, as well as several other state, federal and local permits and approvals in order to proceed.

PolyMet submitted its initial water appropriation permit applications in July 2016 and updated those applications in January 2017. PolyMet is proposing to develop a mine and associated processing facilities for the extraction of copper, nickel, and platinum group elements. If permitted, the mine would be the first of its kind in the state.

The DNR recently completed its comprehensive review of the company’s six water appropriation permit applications and considered input from state, local and tribal governments. These applications are consistent with rates and volumes evaluated and discussed in the NorthMet Environmental Impact Statement.

The DNR is now seeking public review and input on draft permit language before making any permitting decisions.

This public comment period concerns only the six draft water appropriation permits. The DNR’s review of PolyMet’s other pending applications – dam safety, public waters work, and permit to mine – is ongoing and there will be future public comment opportunities.

The DNR will accept written public comments on the draft water appropriation permits from Aug. 11 until Sept. 12. Commenters should include the words “NorthMet Water Appropriation” in the title of their comment emails and letters.

Written comments may be submitted by email to NorthMetPermitting.DNR@state.mn.us or by U.S. Mail to:

MN Department of Natural Resources
ATTN: PolyMet NorthMet Project
500 Lafayette Road N, Box 45
St. Paul, MN 55155-4045

Before proceeding with the proposed NorthMet Mining Project, PolyMet must obtain a total of 12 DNR permits as well as other state, federal, and local permits and approvals. The DNR permits and approvals that are needed include the permit to mine (including financial assurance and wetlands replacement), water appropriation permits, dam safety permits, public waters work permit, burning permit, and an endangered species takings permit.

A timeline of the permitting process is available from the DNR’s PolyMet website.

PolyMet’s water appropriation permit applications along with DNR’s draft water appropriation permits and fact sheet are available on the DNR’s PolyMet webpage.