Minnesota Supreme Court to hear appeal on PolyMet air permit

June 17, 2020

Minnesota’s Supreme Court has agreed to review a State Court of Appeals ruling that struck down an air permit for PolyMet’s North Met Mine near Babbit and Hoyt Lakes, MN.

PolyMet and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) had petitioned the Supreme Court to evaluate the appellate court’s March ruling against an air permit for the company’s proposed mine.

The Supreme Court accepted the air permit petition, the second PolyMet permit decision it has agreed to review. In March, the court said it would review Polymet’s permit to mine and two dam safety permits, which had also been rejected by the Court of Appeals.

The mine and dam permits were issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which also asked the Supreme Court for a review.

“We believe the MPCA in its permit appropriately accounted for the potential effects of the NorthMet Project on the airshed, and are pleased that the Supreme Court will hear the case,” Jon Cherry, president and chief executive officer said in a statement. “The court of appeals’ decision creates tremendous uncertainty for companies who want to invest in Minnesota and must seek permits from the state. This is an opportunity to remedy that situation. We are looking forward to presenting our case to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the controversial $1 billion PolyMet project would be Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine. It’s been derided by opponents who see it as an environmental fiasco in the making and praised by its supporters as significant boost for the Iron Range’s economy.

The openpit mine and its operations for crushing and processing ore require an air permit because they will emit a range of pollutants into the air such as carbon monoxide, fine dust and mercury.

If permitted, the mine will produce an estimated 290 Mt (320 million st) of proven and probable reserves grading 0.29 percent copper and 0.08 percent nickel.

PolyMet has successfully defended itself in six of the 11 state and federal cases challenging the project, the company said. The remaining five cases – three state and two federal – are in various stages of litigation or appeal, including the two cases now pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court.
 

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