ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A state appeals court has blocked a key permit for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.
The proposed mine would be a massive open pit mine near the Iron Range town of Hoyt Lakes. It is something that people in the region have welcomed as a way to diversify the economy in the face of the steel industry’s decline while others remain concerned about the environmental impact.
PolyMet, a Canadian company, has the major state and federal permits it needs to build the mine, but the permits are currently under scrutiny and PolyMet still needs to raise the funds to pay for the mine.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday stayed the project’s water quality permit. Minnesota Public Radio News reports environmental groups and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa had asked for the permit stay.
Environmentalists contend the Environmental Protection Agency’s concerns about how Minnesota regulators drafted the permit should have been reflected in the final permit but were not.
The appeals court concluded that halting the permit is warranted.
PolyMet would be the state’s first copper-nickel mine. Opponents fear it could send sulfuric acid and other pollutants downstream as far as Lake Superior.
PolyMet says the company remains confident the water quality permit “meets all applicable standards” and will be upheld.
Great Lakes Now News Director Natasha Blakely added to this report.
Featured Image: Erie Mining Company, Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. PolyMet plans to use the plant for processing copper and other non-ferrous ores, Photo by Joel Dinda via flickr.com cc 2.0