PolyMet plans to offset wetland destruction

Swans swim on a manmade lake
Swans swim through a manmade lake near Polymet's building near Aurora, Minn.
Derek Montgomery / For MPR News

A proposed copper-nickel mine will destroy more than 900 acres of northeast Minnesota wetlands, but the company hoping to build the mine says it will add wetlands elsewhere to offset the loss.

PolyMet Mining told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers it would add or repair wetlands on 1,600 acres it owns in St. Louis, Pine and Aitkin counties, more than offsetting wetlands lost at the planned mine and processing site near Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

"We'll mitigate that by replacing or rehabilitating wetlands that are located either elsewhere on our site that might also be located within the watershed or in other areas of the state," PolyMet spokesman Bruce Richardson said. "And we'll do that to fully compensate for the wetlands we will affect as a result of our operations."

The wetland permit application to the Corps is the first for PolyMet in what will be a long permitting process.

PolyMet officials expect to start applying for the other 20 or so permits needed to build the mine after the public comment period on a broader environmental impact statement has concluded in March. Public meetings on that study are set for January.

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