Controversy Over Polymet Mine Permitting Expands
HOYT LAKES, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ordered a hearing on alleged irregularities in how Minnesota regulators dealt with federal regulators over a water pollution permit for the planned PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota.
The appeals court on Tuesday ordered a lower court to hold an evidentiary hearing as soon as practical.
The court must review evidence from a leaked email sent by a top official at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to her counterparts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking them not to file written comments on PolyMet's permit during the public comment period. Critics say that kept federal regulators' criticisms off the public record.
The court said in its order that there is "substantial evidence of procedural irregularities" that needs to be examined.
Developers of a proposed copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota are courting bankers for $950 million in financing, even as environmental groups push back against the project over water pollution fears.
PolyMet Mining Corp. CEO Jon Cherry tells the Star Tribune that he's confident the project will move forward despite concerns over its environmental permits.
Minnesota's legislative auditor recently announced an investigation into state regulators' handling of a water quality permit for the mine. It comes a month after the state's appeals court ruled in PolyMet's favor in a challenge from environmental groups.
Cherry says global mining giant Glencore's ownership in the project will partly determine how it's financed. The Switzerland-based company holds a 29% equity stake in PolyMet, but the amount may grow.
Developers hope to begin construction next year.