DNR extends comment period on PolyMet environmental review

The concentrator building runs almost half a mile
The concentrator building stretches for almost half a mile Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, at PolyMet near Aurora, Minn.
Derek Montgomery | For MPR News 2013

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has extended the public comment period on the final environmental review of the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

The DNR says it will now accept comments through Dec. 21, a week later than the original deadline.

The DNR must determine whether to certify the final environmental impact statement on the project as adequate, which would let PolyMet apply for permits. The DNR released the 3,500-page document Nov. 6.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the agency has already received about 30,000 comments.

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"We hope this modest extension of the review period will help other interested parties comment on the adequacy of the document," Landwehr said in a statement.

A coalition of environmental groups had asked for the deadline to be extended until Jan. 4. They say they need more time to comment on the extensive document.

"Thirty days of time with no public hearings provides neither sufficient time nor the opportunity for members of the public to directly address questions to regulators," wrote Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, in a letter Monday.

PolyMet is proposing the state's first copper-nickel mine. The DNR concludes in the final EIS that the mine as proposed can meet state pollution standards.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.