Shutdown delays environmental review of mine project

Polymet Mining company will ask a Special Master to declare that state officials working on an environmental review of its proposed copper-nickel mine should be allowed to go back to work.

The Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the project has been underway for more than five years.

Polymet Mining lobbyist Joe Samargia says the company is required to pay for the study, and has contracts with the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to do some of the work. About 10 employees from those agencies are needed to keep the project on track.

"The project is being hindered by the fact that these people are not working along with the contractors so we can complete this EIS by the fall," he said.

Samargia compares the situation to the Minnesota Zoo, which was allowed to reopen when it showed it had enough budget reserves to continue operating.

"Polymet has a contract with the DNR, the money is in place, it has no state funding, it's all private sector money," said Samargia. "We should be able to have these DNR people work on this project because it's separate from the state funding."

The proposed northeastern Minnesota mine is projected to provide nearly 400 jobs. Samargia says the company has already spent $30 million on the EIS.

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