Posts tagged ‘copper mining’

October 29, 2018

Revised Air Quality Permit Documents and Comments for Polymet’s Proposed Copper Mine NE MN

March 14, 2018

PolyMet draft 401 Certification comments due March 16, 2018

The headwaters of the St Louis watershed detailed for this certification are designated Outstanding Resource Value Waters (ORVWs).  Lake Superior downstream is a restricted Outstanding International Resource Water (OIRW).  As such, changes in water quality are regulated and, according to EPA Region 8 guidance in temporary situations, water quality should return to levels prior to the activity that caused the degradation.  How should a long term project in these waters require any less?

The potential of accurately being able to determine the extent, degree and location of wetlands impacted from drawdown from this Project prior to construction are very low.  Even after the project is authorized and the mine built, these impacts will have to be determined through various types of monitoring during several growing seasons.  The impacts could vary from small changes to complete loss of wetland hydrology. In other words, complete loss of wetland(s).

The knowns are that this copper sulfide mine will result in direct and indirect impacts to 127 wetlands covering approximately 939 acres; and that it may also cause indirect wetland impacts due to potential change in wetland watershed areas, stream flow, groundwater drawdown, wetland fragmentation, or wetland water quality related to dust or rail car spillages.  The NorthMet project, then, has the potential of indirectly impacting more than the 7,350 acres of wetlands predicted.

Temporary activities in ORVWs do not have provisions in Minnesota Rule 7050.0180 placed upon them; but there are still expectations.  Temporary activities should not lower water quality to the extent that existing uses are degraded or removed.  These activities should not result in more than a 5 percent change in ambient concentrations of pollutants or result in a significant long-term increase in the frequency and duration of bacteriological pollution.  Long term water quality and wetland degradation of the kind that the NorthMet Project proposes should require, at minimum, these expectations.

Would NorthMet create no truly unusual problems?  The project itself is unusual; and this certification has not addressed the effects of introducing Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans, a bacteria that thrives in a sulfide rich mining environment, a bacteria that copper mining relies upon to break down the copper, creating sulfuric acid and eventually introducing bio-available mercury downstream and into the wetlands.

The hazards cannot be overstated and have not been fully addressed in this permitting process.  I therefore, ask that this 401 certification not be granted to Polymet for the proposed NorthMet copper sulfide mine.

April 19, 2017

What harm could mining do in the watershed of the BWCA and headwaters of the Mississippi River?

In light of the ongoing process to permit the Polymet to mine copper in Babbitt with a processing center in Hoyt Lakes, I am reposting my article first published in November, 2012:

A view of Northern Minnesota as the battle rages for copper, sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.


March 3, 2016

In the wake of our waters …

The DNR has decided that a copper mine will be suitable for northern Minnesota in its ROD (record of decision) for the NorthMet Project by approving the NorthMet Project’s FEIS. Two other agencies, the Forest Service and Army Corps of Engineers decisions will be upcoming.

For more information on this monumental decision, one that will eventually affect waters in the BWCA, the Rainy River watershed as well as the St Louis watershed, into the Great Lakes, as a consequence of hundreds and possibly thousands of years of runoff from copper sulfide mining:

For more information concerning this proposal, on this site:

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July 20, 2015

Will we through our mining practices continue to degrade our most precious resource … water?

Loon on a lake in the Arrowhead

The following photos were taken in parts of northern Minnesota, some in the UP of Michigan, Colorado Rockies, Alberta, Canada, and on a beach of the Pacific ocean off the Olympic National Forest … all areas where protection of our environment has taken a back seat to lumbering, mining for ore, frack sand, and/or fracking and drilling for oil and gas.  These lands are threatened through practices that pollute and usually drain (mine) our aquifers of good drinking water.

October 6, 2014

no place for mining …

Loon on a lake in the Arrowhead

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