PolyMet copper-nickel mining in Minnesota

Mining supporters
Supporters of the PolyMet Mining Corp.'s mining proposal came early and in large numbers to the St. Paul RiverCentre Jan. 28, 2014, for the third public hearing on the controversial proposal.
Matthew Hintz / For MPR News

PolyMet Mining wants to mine copper, nickel and precious metals for 20 years at a site located just north of Hoyt Lakes in the Superior National Forest. The NorthMet Deposit is part of what is known as the Duluth Complex, which stretches from about 150 miles north of Duluth all the way to the Canadian border. The company has tried to demonstrate for years that its plan would avoid scenarios that infuriate environmentalists.


FAQ: About the mine and the company

Map: Proposed copper-nickel mines

Timeline: PolyMet's Minnesota history

Photos: Ramping up to mine copper

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March 13, 2014: EPA: PolyMet mine study shows 'extensive improvements'

Today, EPA officials said the new study still contains environmental concerns and that the study should include more information to assess environmental impacts. Despite the need for additional information and analysis, PolyMet officials celebrated the EPA's assessment.

March 13, 2014: As PolyMet mine comment window closes, all eyes turn to EPA

Although the Department of Natural Resources has already received over 40,000 comments, there's one particular letter everyone following the project is waiting for: the EPA's.

March 9, 2014: Scale of PolyMet technology leads to more questions

When it comes to the technologies mining companies employ to scrape minerals out of the ground, process them, and safely dispose of the waste, everything is on an immense scale.

Feb. 11, 2014: PolyMet damage deposit: A landlord's advice

A landlord hopes a tenant's damage deposit will cover cleanup and repair costs, just as the state of Minnesota hopes financial assurance would protect the state's taxpayers from future cleanup and reclamation costs years from now at PolyMet's proposed copper-nickel mine and processing facility.

Jan. 28, 2014: Thousands pack final public hearing

More than 2,100 people packed a Saint Paul RiverCentre ballroom, matching in size but surpassing in feistiness the combined 2,000 or so people who attended two earlier meetings in Duluth and Aurora.

Jan. 27, 2014: Environmental study inconclusive on water treatment

Debate over the need for long-term water treatment has dominated public testimony surrounding PolyMet's proposed copper-nickel mine, but the agencies studying the plan didn't ask the one question seemingly everyone wants the answer to: How long exactly will that treatment be needed?

Jan. 22, 2014: Supporters dominate second hearing

The second of three scheduled hearings on the PolyMet mine proposal was held at Mesabi East High School in Aurora, a town of 1,600 that has become a hotbed of support for the proposal. A banner on the way into town proclaims "We Support Mining," a sentiment echoed by many in the room.

Jan. 17, 2014: Reporter's notes: Informed comment

It was a long night covering the first of three public hearings for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine last night in Duluth. Environmental groups opposing the project held a press conference at 3; an informational open house began at 5; and three hours of public comments commenced at 7 p.m.

Jan. 17, 2014: Hearing in Duluth draws large, passionate crowd

The first public hearing on what could be Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine drew some 1,300 people to Duluth on Thursday to rally for jobs, ask questions and poke holes in the 2,200-page environmental study that must pass muster before the project can go forward. The discussion was passionate but remained civil.

Jan. 16, 2014: Live blog: Public comments in Duluth

MPR News covered the first of three public comment meetings about the PolyMet mine live online, pulling in observations and anecdotes from our own two reporters and other journalists covering the event, with social media editors adding context from the newsroom.

Jan. 16, 2014: First PolyMet hearing: Do comments matter?

When hundreds of people show up at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center tonight to speak out about PolyMet's proposed copper-nickel mine, many of them will be doing so for the second time. Four years ago, the Department of Natural Resources organized a similar process for an earlier environmental study. That comment period generated 3,800 postcards, e-mails, letters and statements that yielded about 10,000 different claims regarding water quality, mining economics and myriad other topics that the DNR is still working to respond to as part of its legal obligation.

Dec. 5, 2013: Water treatment is a central question

The environmental impact statement on PolyMet Mining's plans assumes water would be treated for 200 years at the mine site and 500 years at the plant site. But Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials, who prepared the document along with several federal agencies and tribal groups, said it isn't known how long treatment could be needed.

Dec. 5, 2013: Mine rekindles decades-old debate

The battle over copper-nickel mining has its roots in a 1948 discovery by Fred Childers, of Ely, who likely found the same kind of rocks while blasting rock to build a Forest Service road. Three years later, he recruited a Duluth entrepreneur Roger Whiteside to drill the first exploratory copper bore hole in the state.

Dec. 4, 2013: Video: A look at PolyMet's biggest investors

We've been looking into PolyMet's largest investor, the Swiss company GlencoreXstrata. The international commodities and mining giant has invested millions in PolyMet. The story brought us to the Gulf Coast.

Dec. 2, 2013: Economic opportunity or too environmentally risky?

PolyMet's proposal has kicked off a public discussion that could help decide if the mine is built and if so, what it looks like. Mining supporters hope the journey will end with hundreds of jobs for a needy region and a spot for Minnesota on a global stage where copper is an essential part of economic progress.