PolyMet hopes changes to proposed mine passes muster

PolyMet Mining says it has made adjustments to its proposed copper/nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes that will reduce the project's environment impacts.

Brad Moore, PolyMet's executive vice president, said he's confident the changes will address concerns the Environmental Protection Agency raised about the project.

Moore said the EPA is involved in shaping the modifications. The EPA also wants the company to provide greater depth on plans for what's called "financial assurance" -- that is, a fund the company provides up front to pay for any later environmental cleanup.

"Key to that financial assurance under Minnesota law is it has to withstand bankruptcy of the company," Moore said. "[It] also has to withstand transfers of the company -- if the company is sold, gets a new partner, a new owner. That financial assurance always has to be available for the DNR or another regulatory agency to come in and fix a problem."

Financial assurance is a key concern for environmentalists who have criticized PolyMet's plans as a serious threat to the St. Louis River and the Boundary Waters.

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