PolyMet Permits & Approvals

PolyMet proposes to retool an abandoned taconite processing plant and store its tailings waste on top of 1950’s era tailings basin unused for almost two decades. However, the PolyMet mine would excavate and destroy undeveloped forest and high quality pristine wetlands in the headwaters of the St. Louis River.

The PolyMet sulfide mine could not be built without major permits and approvals by both state and federal agencies. Four of these permits and approvals are explained below.

Abandoned plant in Hoytt Lakes proposed for PolyMet mine processing reuse. Photo by Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune.

Pristine wetland floor on site proposed for PolyMet mine. Photo by Robin Heil.

State Approval of PolyMet NPDES/SDS Water Pollution Permit

On December 20, 2018, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued PolyMet a combined federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and Minnesota State Disposal System (NPDES/SDS) permit to allow PolyMet to discharge pollutants into surface water and groundwater. MPCA also issued a related state Clean Water Act certification related to wetlands destruction and water pollution.

State Approval of PolyMet Permit to Mine & Dam Safety Permits

On November 1, 2018, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued PolyMet a Permit to Mine and Dam Safety permits for dams containing liquid and wet slurry mine wastes.

Federal Approval of PolyMet Land Exchange

On January 9, 2016, the U.S. Forest Service approved the transfer of 6,650 acres of Superior National Forest public lands to PolyMet in exchange for public lands. Without this land exchange, PolyMet could not dig an open pit mine on this National Forest land.

Federal Approval of PolyMet Wetlands Destruction Permit

On March 21, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit that allows PolyMet to dredge, fill, and destroy wetlands. This Army Corps decision also claimed that the PolyMet environmental review process met federal requirements.