The Minnesota Supreme Court has agreed to hear PolyMet Mining Inc.'s appeal of a ruling that canceled three permits needed for its proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.
In January, the Minnesota Court of Appeals gave environmentalists a major victory by rejecting some of the most important permits for the planned mine.
The appeals court sent the dispute back to the Department of Natural Resources for a trial-like contested case hearing before a neutral administrative law judge on the project's environmental risks.
PolyMet pointed out that the DNR has already held a 15-year-long environmental review and permitting process that included numerous chances for the public to weigh in.
Environmental groups said Wednesday they will defend the appeals court decision.
The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy says the appeal court properly concluded that the risks of PolyMet’s proposal “are too important not to be fully evaluated by an independent judge.”
Paula Maccabee, an attorney for WaterLegacy, another group that challenged the permits, says the appeals court ruling was “sound, well-reasoned, and compelling.” Maccabee says Minnesotans “deserve a contested-case hearing process."
At issue were PolyMet’s permit to mine and its two dam safety permits. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa also is challenging the project.
The Supreme Court order did not set a time for oral arguments.