Minntac mine expansion won't require impact statement

An environmental impact statement will not be required for a proposed extension of the Mountain Iron Minntac mine, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has decided.

Randall Doneen, DNR environmental review supervisor, said enough information was provided during an environmental worksheet process, which also includes a 30-day public review period.

During that process, the public expressed concerns about stream loss and water quality, but Doneen said the state and federal agencies already have authority to address those issues.

"We were confident in the ability of the regulatory authorities to address these issues around water quality and stream impacts and watershed alternations," Doneen said.

U.S. Steel is proposing a more than 480-acre extension to its Minntac facility. Doneen said the extension would allow US Steel to use the mine for 16 more years.

"This extension... increases the area they can mine," he said. "It allows them to not have to stop mining when they get to their current permit-to-mine-boundary."

He said that although the mine pit would enlarge under the proposal, US Steel would mine at the same rate.

"The magnitude of their operations as far as how many mining rigs and how much flow-through of taconite that they make won't change," Doneen said.

Doneen said US Steel will now go through a formal permitting process, which can also include public review.

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