Notice of Draft Permit to Mine for PolyMet NorthMet Project

Public Comment Period Open Through March 6, DNR to hold 2 Public Meetings in February

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has opened a public comment and objection period on a draft permit to mine for the proposed Poly Met Mining, Inc. (PolyMet) NorthMet mining project. Following review of PolyMet’s permit to mine application, the DNR has prepared draft special conditions for the NorthMet project. Together, the application and the draft special conditions are considered the draft permit to mine. The draft permit to mine and several related fact sheets are posted on the DNR’s permit to mine webpage for the NorthMet project:

Submitting Public Comments and Objections

The DNR will now accept comments and written objections on the draft permit to mine through Tuesday, March 6, 2018.  Written comments and objections may be submitted via the state’s portal for the project:

Or by U.S. Mail to:

MN Department of Natural Resources

Division of Lands and Minerals

500 Lafayette Road N, Box 45

St. Paul, MN 55155-4045

Objection Process

Minnesota Rules allow qualifying individuals or entities to submit formal written objections to a draft permit to mine. An individual or entity submitting a written objection must meet specific criteria and include all information outlined in Minnesota Rules 6132.4000 subp. 2. See DNR Formal Objections and Petitions for Contested Case Hearing fact sheet for more detail on the objection process. This fact sheet also describes the contested case petition process under Minnesota Statutes 93.483 subd.1-2.  Both the objection and petition processes are distinct from the general public’s ability to submit any and all comments concerning the draft permit.

Comments, written objections, and petitions will all be fully considered by the DNR prior to making a final decision.  They will become part of the official record and as such, may be made available for public examination.

Public Meetings

As part of the draft permit to mine comment and objection process, the DNR will hold two public meetings jointly with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA will be making its draft air quality permit, draft water quality permit, and draft 401 certification available for public review and comment in advance of these public meetings.

Public meetings will be held on:

  1. Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018
    Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt) High School
    601 N 1st St W, Aurora, MN 55705
    4:00-9:00 p.m.  Open house
    6:00-9:00 p.m.  Public comment forum
  2. Thursday,  Feb. 8, 2018
    DECC – Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
    350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802
    1:00-9:00 p.m.  Open house
    6:00-9:00 p.m.  Public comment forum

Comments and written objections on the NorthMet draft permit to mine will be accepted at these meetings. Stenographers will be available to record oral comments offered individually and during the public comment forum. In addition, comment boxes will be available for submitting written comments and objections at the meetings and staff from both the DNR and MPCA will be available to answer questions during each open house.

In case of a weather-related cancellation, the following alternative meeting dates have been established:  1) Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt) High School – Aurora as a substitute for the scheduled Feb. 7 meeting; 2) Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, DECC – Duluth as a substitute for the scheduled February 8 meeting. The DNR will notify the public of any cancellations or time or venue changes via GovDelivery message, press release and/or social media.

Proposed NorthMet Project

The proposed NorthMet Project, located near the cities of Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt in northeastern Minnesota, would create an open pit copper, nickel, cobalt and precious metals mine with stockpile areas; refurbish a portion of the former LTV Steel Mining Company (LTVSMC) processing plant and construct a new hydrometallurgical facility; construct a tailings basin facility on the site of LTVSMC existing tailings facilities; and add to existing utility infrastructure and rail lines. The draft permit to mine details the comprehensive terms and conditions, including financial assurance, developed to ensure that the project is designed, constructed, operated, reclaimed, and closed in a way that meets state standards.

The draft permit to mine includes a wetland replacement plan, which the DNR has deemed complete. The wetland replacement plan is currently under review by the DNR and has been sent to the technical evaluation panel (TEP) for review. The DNR will also accept comments from the public on the draft wetland replacement plan as part of the draft permit to mine comment process.

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 webpage.