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DNR Minerals Auction Shows Nonferrous Interest

Mesabi Daily News
Charles Ramsay
April 29, 2011

Bids by four mining exploration firms opened Thursday indicate continued exploration for nonferrous mining possibilities in Northeastern Minnesota.

None of 94 mining unit bids were approved immediately, as the matter now moves to the state's Executive Council for a final decision in June. A report by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on lease bids will be sent to the council.

"Interest remains strong," Kathy Lewis, assistant director of the DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals said in a phone interview Thursday from St. Paul. "This is a good representative sale. The mining industry is looking very positive now." Companies bidding were:

• Agate Lake Resources LLC in Duluth, 8 mining units in St. Louis County in Township 62 Range 13, and also in 62-14.

• Encampment Minerals Inc. of Denver, Colo., 24 mining units, in Lake County, in 58-10, 59-10, and 59-11.

• Vermilion Gold LLC, with longtime minerals explorer Ernie Lehmann involved in the firm, 13 mining units: One in Koochiching County near International Falls, six units in northeastern Itasca County, and the rest in St. Louis County. Itasca County mining units are in 61-22, 60-23 and 60-25. Two units are in the "Virginia Horn," near Virginia, in 58-17 and 62-20. "Ernie already holds leases in those areas," Lewis said.

• DMC/USA LLC (Duluth Metals), 49 mining units in western Lake County, in 58-10, 59-10, 61-10, 59-11, and 58-11.

A total of 17 bids were for same parcels, between Encampment and DMC.

A mining unit is what the DNR considers as one parcel, which range from 20 acres to 640 acres or larger.

Companies bid for the exploratory leases, with the higher one (over the 3.95 percent base rate) from a qualified firm usually being considered. If awarded a lease, a company registers with the DNR and is licensed by the state Board of Health. Assurances of fiscal responsibility may be required. If a company wants to operate a mine, then the environmental impact statement process starts.

The mining areas being considered are not exactly virgin territory. And nonferrous lease auctions didn't start just last year, with the first one being held in 1966.

"Most of the sales have been leased in the past and have been explored," Lewis explained. Companies can use the DNR Lands & Minerals Division's drill core library at its Hibbing office to compare samples for themselves, she added.

Typically in the past, a company may lease a parcel to explore and drill on for gold, base and precious metals, and may let the lease go afterward. But with the current market interest in such minerals, and with changing times in cost and technology, a parcel explored already may be now considered attractive to lease, she said.

Another factor is leasable parcels. The state currently has about 145,000 acres of land being leased for nonferrous minerals exploration.

Lewis emphasized that Minnesota has strong environmental protections in law, and the DNR will work for protections with land surface owners. Opportunities for public input will available.

"Minnesota has good mineral potential," Lewis said. "And companies continue to come here."

 

Your Land on Iron Range May Be Gold Mine — for Others

Duluth News Tribune
John Myers
April 24, 2011

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will open bids Thursday for mineral leases that allow companies to prospect for copper, nickel, gold and other metals across northern Minnesota.

The state offered 621 parcels of land, private and public, for which the state owns the mineral rights across Lake, St. Louis, Itasca and Koochiching counties. The parcels, some suggested by mining companies as possible hotspots, are in areas where mineral deposits are likely to be present but which generally haven't been confirmed.

Mining supporters – and official state policy – say the leases are a critical first step to tapping the state's vast mineral wealth, leading to new types of mining, hundreds of jobs, increased taxes and huge royalties for the state to pay for schools, roads and more.

But opponents say the system is stacked against landowners, some of whom didn't realize they don't own what's under their own land. And others say the state is allowing too much prospecting too fast.

Ron Brodigan started his Great Lakes School of Log Building in 1975 near Isabella because of its remote location. Thursday's DNR auction includes state mineral rights under 120 of his 200 acres. While the winning bidder must negotiate with Brodigan for access, state laws generally favor mineral rights over surface rights, meaning Brodigan can't simply say no.

Brodigan said he knew he didn't own his mineral rights, but he never thought it would be an issue where he lives, far from any traditional mining area.

"My neighbors and I are disgusted at the prospect of damage, noise and pollution we will be seeing within a year," Brodigan said. "We are frightened as well about our water wells, which will likely be impacted by exploration under" our land.

Some caught unaware

The DNR auctions are held annually and have been drawing increased interest from mining companies as new discoveries of valuable metals have been found. Those discoveries happened at the same time prices for those metals jumped to new highs.

The winning bidder gets exclusive rights to the minerals for 50 years in exchange for a small lease fee and a commitment to pay royalties if mining ever occurs.

The state has held similar auctions in various forms for 150 years, and Minnesota tax coffers have realized millions of dollars from iron ore and taconite mining operations on land where the state owns the minerals leases.

Now, the official state policy is that Minnesota wants to see the same kind of royalties from copper, nickel and gold mining. Estimates skyrocket into the billions of dollars for the state if all known mineral deposits on land with state mineral rights are ever mined.

"That's the goal as it's written in statute … that these leases eventually become mining operations and bring in royalties," said Aaron Vande Linde, transactions manager for the DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals.

So far, no such mining has ever been done here. But the rush toward a new era of mining has some landowners and environmental groups concerned, especially as prospecting moves farther from the state's traditional mining areas and spreads across the north woods.

"The sheer volume of public lands being auctioned off to mining interests is alarming," said Todd Ronning, board member of the Save Lake Superior Association.

The association recently received a $3,000 grant from the Indigenous Environmental Network and Western Mining Action Network to accelerate its public awareness campaign on the expansion of mining interest in northern Minnesota and the potential changes in the landscape.

Ronning notes that state policy prevents landowners from buying the mineral rights under their own land and favors mining company access, a situation that critics say prevents any meaningful state regulation of the industry.

In Lake County, 44 of the 122 units being auctioned by the state this week are privately owned land on top of state mineral rights. That varies by county, however, with no private land among the Koochiching County parcels, Vande Linde said.

Brian Kontio purchased land to build a cabin near Isabella last year. He also knew, from his property abstract, that the state held his mineral rights. But he, too, thought he was far enough away from where PolyMet Mining Co. and Twin Metals were finding copper near Babbitt and Ely.

"Now I realize that I am on top of a geological formation called the Greenwood Lake intrusion which possibly contains mineable quantities of platinum group metals. The joke's on me, I guess," Kontio said, He said state notices of the mineral auctions are vague.

"The average Joe who reads this notice is going to think that the state is selling mineral rights under state land, tax-forfeit land, not private land," he said.

Fewer bids coming?

Last year, six mining companies bid on 123 mineral-rights parcels when the state offered 458,040 acres of state mineral interests across parts of St. Louis, Carlton, Itasca, Aitkin, Pine, Benton and Morrison counties, including large tracts just outside Duluth. No bids came for parcels in Pine, Benton or Morrison counties.

Still, most of the 1,164 parcels offered were not bid on and, on average, prospectors bid on only about 7 percent of the DNR's offerings every year.

While the DNR will see for sure on Thursday, Vande Linde said the big prospecting rush, at least on state land, may be slowing as mining companies need to catch up and confirm what's on lands where they already have purchased mineral rights before they bid on more land farther from known deposits.

This year's bids will be screened to make sure the companies can make the payments as promised. The leases don't become official until the state's Executive Council – the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor and attorney general – approves them in June.

Thursday's high bidders will pay the state an annual fee during exploration, between $1.50 and $35 per acre. But their bids will be selected mostly based on the highest royalty per ton the company offered the state when any actual mining occurs.

The companies get exclusive rights to prospect on each parcel for 50 years – if they keep paying their lease fees, which ramp up after five years. In most cases, the leases are turned back to the state, either because not enough minerals were found or because the company never bothered to look.

For more information

If you don't know whether you own the mineral rights under your property, check your property abstract. Any severance between surface and mineral rights must be recorded in the abstract. More information is available at http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/lands_minerals/mineralownership.pdf.

Your land on Iron Range may be gold mine — for others

Duluth News Tribune
John Myers
April 24, 2011

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will open bids Thursday for mineral leases that allow companies to prospect for copper, nickel, gold and other metals across northern Minnesota.

The state offered 621 parcels of land, private and public, for which the state owns the mineral rights across Lake, St. Louis, Itasca and Koochiching counties. The parcels, some suggested by mining companies as possible hotspots, are in areas where mineral deposits are likely to be present but which generally haven't been confirmed.

Mining supporters – and official state policy – say the leases are a critical first step to tapping the state's vast mineral wealth, leading to new types of mining, hundreds of jobs, increased taxes and huge royalties for the state to pay for schools, roads and more.

But opponents say the system is stacked against landowners, some of whom didn't realize they don't own what's under their own land. And others say the state is allowing too much prospecting too fast.

Ron Brodigan started his Great Lakes School of Log Building in 1975 near Isabella because of its remote location. Thursday's DNR auction includes state mineral rights under 120 of his 200 acres. While the winning bidder must negotiate with Brodigan for access, state laws generally favor mineral rights over surface rights, meaning Brodigan can't simply say no.

Brodigan said he knew he didn't own his mineral rights, but he never thought it would be an issue where he lives, far from any traditional mining area.

"My neighbors and I are disgusted at the prospect of damage, noise and pollution we will be seeing within a year," Brodigan said. "We are frightened as well about our water wells, which will likely be impacted by exploration under" our land.

Some caught unaware

The DNR auctions are held annually and have been drawing increased interest from mining companies as new discoveries of valuable metals have been found. Those discoveries happened at the same time prices for those metals jumped to new highs.

The winning bidder gets exclusive rights to the minerals for 50 years in exchange for a small lease fee and a commitment to pay royalties if mining ever occurs.

The state has held similar auctions in various forms for 150 years, and Minnesota tax coffers have realized millions of dollars from iron ore and taconite mining operations on land where the state owns the minerals leases.

Now, the official state policy is that Minnesota wants to see the same kind of royalties from copper, nickel and gold mining. Estimates skyrocket into the billions of dollars for the state if all known mineral deposits on land with state mineral rights are ever mined.

"That's the goal as it's written in statute … that these leases eventually become mining operations and bring in royalties," said Aaron Vande Linde, transactions manager for the DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals.

So far, no such mining has ever been done here. But the rush toward a new era of mining has some landowners and environmental groups concerned, especially as prospecting moves farther from the state's traditional mining areas and spreads across the north woods.

"The sheer volume of public lands being auctioned off to mining interests is alarming," said Todd Ronning, board member of the Save Lake Superior Association.

The association recently received a $3,000 grant from the Indigenous Environmental Network and Western Mining Action Network to accelerate its public awareness campaign on the expansion of mining interest in northern Minnesota and the potential changes in the landscape.

Ronning notes that state policy prevents landowners from buying the mineral rights under their own land and favors mining company access, a situation that critics say prevents any meaningful state regulation of the industry.

In Lake County, 44 of the 122 units being auctioned by the state this week are privately owned land on top of state mineral rights. That varies by county, however, with no private land among the Koochiching County parcels, Vande Linde said.

Brian Kontio purchased land to build a cabin near Isabella last year. He also knew, from his property abstract, that the state held his mineral rights. But he, too, thought he was far enough away from where PolyMet Mining Co. and Twin Metals were finding copper near Babbitt and Ely.

"Now I realize that I am on top of a geological formation called the Greenwood Lake intrusion which possibly contains mineable quantities of platinum group metals. The joke's on me, I guess," Kontio said, He said state notices of the mineral auctions are vague.

"The average Joe who reads this notice is going to think that the state is selling mineral rights under state land, tax-forfeit land, not private land," he said.

Fewer bids coming?

Last year, six mining companies bid on 123 mineral-rights parcels when the state offered 458,040 acres of state mineral interests across parts of St. Louis, Carlton, Itasca, Aitkin, Pine, Benton and Morrison counties, including large tracts just outside Duluth. No bids came for parcels in Pine, Benton or Morrison counties.

Still, most of the 1,164 parcels offered were not bid on and, on average, prospectors bid on only about 7 percent of the DNR's offerings every year.

While the DNR will see for sure on Thursday, Vande Linde said the big prospecting rush, at least on state land, may be slowing as mining companies need to catch up and confirm what's on lands where they already have purchased mineral rights before they bid on more land farther from known deposits.

This year's bids will be screened to make sure the companies can make the payments as promised. The leases don't become official until the state's Executive Council – the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor and attorney general – approves them in June.

Thursday's high bidders will pay the state an annual fee during exploration, between $1.50 and $35 per acre. But their bids will be selected mostly based on the highest royalty per ton the company offered the state when any actual mining occurs.

The companies get exclusive rights to prospect on each parcel for 50 years – if they keep paying their lease fees, which ramp up after five years. In most cases, the leases are turned back to the state, either because not enough minerals were found or because the company never bothered to look.

Ely Economy Rolls On

Ely Echo
Editorial
April 23, 2011

Our annual Progress Edition is a chance to shine a positive light on improvements in our community. We write up businesses that have changed hands, changed addresses or are undergoing major changes. What amazes us each year is the number of stories of true progress.

Some of the stories this year are still in development. Three of the larger buildings being built, Adventure Inn, Twin Metals and the Boy Scout base, weren't completed yet. There'll be open houses and dedications this summer for each.

There are stories we will write a year from now that are just becoming reality today. In 2012 we'll know if the VFW post will have found a new location for their gin mill. We'll know about Ely Photo that will open at Sheridan and Second Avenue East in the former Andrea J's. And we'll know about the remodeling of the former Moose Club building on Central Avenue by the new owners.

There will be others. There's always some we may have missed inadvertently. Some people turned us down when we asked if they would like to have their business featured in this year's Progress Edition.

The good news is we cover progress in Ely 52 weeks a year. We just happen to feature progress in one special edition each year.

The owner of Adventure Inn had an interesting comment when we talked to her. She said people had told her their faith in Ely has been strengthened after they saw the investment the Edgingtons are making on Sheridan Street.

Other business owners had similar positive stories. These may not be the best of times, but the belief that Ely is a great place to visit and an even better place to live still rings loud and clear.

We enjoyed seeing the $2.3 million building being finished at the Charles L. Sommers Boy Scout Base on Moose Lake. A beautiful facility in a fantastic location. It will be the first thing thousands of Boy Scouts will see when they first come to the base.

And those Boy Scouts, you know the ones you see in their uniforms at Dairy Queen in the summer? They grow up and become entrepreneurs and even small business owners.

One of the scouts who went to the base at the end of the Moose Lake Road now owns a small business on Chapman Street. His father now lives here too. All because years ago he sent his son on a canoe trip through a Boy Scout base in Ely, Minnesota.

And how about the founder of Wenonah canoes? Mike Cichanowski has a fond connection to Ely. Yup, because of the scout base. As an Eagle Scout he knew the Charles L. Sommers base well. And he speaks of it fondly yet today, although now he is a Distinguished Eagle Scout, the highest honor given by the Boy Scouts of America.

Yet we have referred to the Sommers Base as Ely's best kept secret. So in this year's Progress Edition you can learn more about the Boy Scout operation in Ely.

What we didn't have this year were major public projects. Central Avenue will have the final touches added this spring and the school is about to start on a $3 million heating system project, but in past years there were some major public projects.

Our major projects this year include the construction of the first mining company building in Ely in over 50 years. Since the Pioneer Mine closed its doors 44 years ago, mining has slipped from the minds of many who live here. Yet Ely's history is largely based not on the woods and water that surrounds it but on the iron underneath her.

There's more to be found underground and Twin Metals looks to be one the companies here for the long haul to make it happen. No other company has shown the commitment to Ely that Twin Metals has.

And they have a point man who can speak everyday Ely English in addition to geologic and mining terms. David Oliver has been the company's face in the community.

We are watching Twin Metals grow by leaps and bounds right before our eyes. First there was Duluth Metals, drilling holes off the Spruce Road. They had offices in a house near the Loe Industrial Park.

Then came the announcement they would partner with Chilean mining giant Antofagasta to form Twin Metals. Not only was there a major cash infusion, there was a knowledge base of how to mine copper, nickel and palladium group minerals. The playing field had just taken a momentous leap.

Three months later came the second major announcement. Twin Metals would acquire Franconia Minerals for $75 million. The two companies were exploring right next to each other.

Now the two have become one. And their resource estimates, basically the amount of minerals they can access, jumped to one billion tons. That's billion with a B.

And instead of working out of a house, the company announced it would build an 11,000 square foot building, not in Duluth, not in Minneapolis, not in Canada, but in Ely. Right here in our Business Park. Progress.

We don't know what the next 12 months holds in store for our community. We do know that there are mom and pop businesses, there are big businesses and there are a lot of people out there who believe in Ely and its future.

Count us among the believers. And if you don't believe us, read through this year's Ely Echo Progress Edition.

There's still time to get a copy of this 18 page special section if you call now!

Mining Story Should Have Verified Wild Rice Claims

Duluth News Tribune
Opinion: Dan Harp
April 22, 2011

The News Tribune would serve its profession by verifying the claims and motives of so-called "experts," like the retired science teacher quoted in the April 10 story, "In sulfate debate, future of Range mining projects hangs in balance." Rarely have I witnessed such fabrications of facts, lack of science, and abundance of political maneuvering and innuendo.

Much of the story related to the wild-rice abundance, or lack thereof, where the Partridge and St. Louis rivers join. The teacher suggested the problem was sulfates.

I live within 400 yards of there. I've canoed and fished upstream and downstream many miles over 40 years. Upstream, I've yet to see, let alone harvest, any of the wild rice supposedly plentiful enough to choke the river. That was a fabrication. There's no rice upstream due to geology and topography. The river is all rock there and the river gradient is somewhat steep with a series of rapids. This is not conducive to weed beds, let alone wild-rice beds.

Sulfates have nothing to do with things. Downstream, the reasoning is equally flawed. Correct, there's little if any wild rice, but again the reason is related to the soil nutrients and the growing requirements of rice rather than the implied problem of sulfates. Downstream, there's a defined change in geology and topography. The river bottom changes to all sand and the river gradient becomes flat. The river channel banks are generally steep and somewhat narrow. The river becomes serpentine in its course. In short, this isn't a correct environment for wild rice – and sulfates have nothing to do with it. Another obvious problem is the river itself, which has an extreme, seasonal, water-level variation.

The media, science community, and environmental supporters all should've felt a degree of embarrassment by the lack of integrity in the April 10 story.

 

Reader’s view: Mining story should have verified wild rice claims

Duluth News Tribune
April 22, 2011

The News Tribune would serve its profession by verifying the claims and motives of so-called "experts," like the retired science teacher quoted in the April 10 story, "In sulfate debate, future of Range mining projects hangs in balance."

The News Tribune would serve its profession by verifying the claims and motives of so-called "experts," like the retired science teacher quoted in the April 10 story, "In sulfate debate, future of Range mining projects hangs in balance." Rarely have I witnessed such fabrications of facts, lack of science, and abundance of political maneuvering and innuendo.

Much of the story related to the wild-rice abundance, or lack thereof, where the Partridge and St. Louis rivers join. The teacher suggested the problem was sulfates.

I live within 400 yards of there. I've canoed and fished upstream and downstream many miles over 40 years. Upstream, I've yet to see, let alone harvest, any of the wild rice supposedly plentiful enough to choke the river. That was a fabrication. There's no rice upstream due to geology and topography. The river is all rock there and the river gradient is somewhat steep with a series of rapids. This is not conducive to weed beds, let alone wild-rice beds.

Sulfates have nothing to do with things. Downstream, the reasoning is equally flawed. Correct, there's little if any wild rice, but again the reason is related to the soil nutrients and the growing requirements of rice rather than the implied problem of sulfates. Downstream, there's a defined change in geology and topography. The river bottom changes to all sand and the river gradient becomes flat. The river channel banks are generally steep and somewhat narrow. The river becomes serpentine in its course. In short, this isn't a correct environment for wild rice – and sulfates have nothing to do with it. Another obvious problem is the river itself, which has an extreme, seasonal, water-level variation.

The media, science community, and environmental supporters all should've felt a degree of embarrassment by the lack of integrity in the April 10 story.

Dan Harp

Aurora

 

 

EDITORIAL: PolyMet loan issue didn’t need a lawsuit

Mesabi Daily News
April 19, 2011 

Preservationists tried again the past several months to delay and delay the proposed PolyMet copper/nickel/precious metals project slated for mining in the Babbitt area and processing at the former LTV Mining Co. site near Hoyt Lakes.

At issue this time was a $4 million loan from the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board to help the company complete a land swap with the U.S. Forest Service for property needed for the project.

Five groups sued over a technicality, claiming that the agency could not do so because required permits had yet to be secured. PolyMet is in a supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement process that officials say will be done this summer with a product ready for final review to pave the way for permitting. This was incredibly ridiculous. Reasonable discussions without filing a lawsuit could have alleviated the problem.

The Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton corrected the technical flaw, which would have led to a prolonged and totally unnecessary court fight over the loan to PolyMet, with language in much-needed legislation that streamlines the permitting process throughout the state.

Those groups and individuals so adamantly opposed to nonferrous mining projects will never be rational about the issue. They will simply advocate filing lawsuit after lawsuit to try to block such projects.

And where does the money come for often frivolous lawsuits? Mostly deep pockets of preservationists from outside the Iron Range, really outside the state of Minnesota. Thus, the money to play these litigious games is doled out by people who couldn't care less about the people of northeastern Minnesota; couldn't care less that the area continues to lose population because of a lack of sufficient jobs; couldn't care less that so many people who want to live here and raise their families have to leave the area for work.

The glee many of these preservationists take in trying to thwart legitimate projects that must pass through rigorous environmental review is really quite disgusting. To some of them it's just a game.

Well, it's no game to the people of the Iron Range. It's about jobs and paychecks and the dignity of work and the stabilization of communities and school districts.

PolyMet Updates Status of Environmental Review

www.marketwire.com
April 15, 2011

HOYT LAKES, MINNESOTA–(Marketwire – April 15, 2011) – PolyMet Mining Corp. (TSX:POM)(NYSE Amex:PLM) ("PolyMet" or the "Company") reported today on the status of the environmental review of its NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals project located in northeastern Minnesota.

PolyMet and the lead agencies – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), US Forest Services (USFS) and US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – expect to finalize detailed modeling work plans by early May. The project, which includes the simplified metallurgical process and reduction in capital costs that the Company announced on February 2, 2011, will then be modeled to evaluate the environmental impacts.

Once final modeling confirms that the project meets state and federal standards required for it to be permitted, the third party contractor hired by the DNR will prepare a preliminary supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS). The preliminary SDEIS will be reviewed by the lead agencies, cooperating agencies (including the US Environmental Protection Agency and tribal governments) and PolyMet, before being finalized for publication and public comment. The lead agencies anticipate publishing the SDEIS for public comment during the fall of 2011.

Brad Moore, PolyMet's Executive Vice President, Environmental & Governmental Affairs stated, "the federal and state agencies involved in the PolyMet environmental review are working together to complete this process. Everyone is committed to producing a document that thoroughly reviews the project impacts and will provide information essential for permitting.

"Since the initial draft EIS, important improvements have been incorporated into the project to reduce the environmental impacts. These enhancements will be described in the SDEIS. We look forward to completion of this important phase of the environmental review process," he concluded.

About PolyMet

PolyMet Mining Corp. (www.polymetmining.com) is a publicly-traded mine development company that controls 100% of the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals ore body through a long-term lease and owns 100% of the Erie Plant, a large processing facility located approximately six miles from the ore body in the established mining district of the Mesabi Range in northeastern Minnesota. PolyMet Mining Corp. has completed its Definitive Feasibility Study and is seeking environmental and operating permits to enable it to commence production. The NorthMet project is expected to require more than one-and-a-quarter million hours of construction labor and create approximately 360 long-term jobs, a level of activity that will have a significant multiplier effect in the local economy.

PolyMet hopes changes to proposed mine passes muster

MPR News
Bill Catlin
April 15, 2011

St. Paul, Minn. — PolyMet Mining says it has made adjustments to its proposed copper/nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes that will reduce the project's environment impacts.

Brad Moore, PolyMet's executive vice president, said he's confident the changes will address concerns the Environmental Protection Agency raised about the project.

Moore said the EPA is involved in shaping the modifications. The EPA also wants the company to provide greater depth on plans for what's called "financial assurance" — that is, a fund the company provides up front to pay for any later environmental cleanup.

"Key to that financial assurance under Minnesota law is it has to withstand bankruptcy of the company," Moore said. "[It] also has to withstand transfers of the company — if the company is sold, gets a new partner, a new owner. That financial assurance always has to be available for the DNR or another regulatory agency to come in and fix a problem."

Financial assurance is a key concern for environmentalists who have criticized PolyMet's plans as a serious threat to the St. Louis River and the Boundary Waters.

 

IRRRB to repeat vote on PolyMet loan

Duluth News Tribune
News Tribune Staff
April 14, 2011

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board has scheduled a do-over action Friday on a loan for the proposed PolyMet copper mine project.

The $4 million IRRRB loan was first approved in December, but the action was challenged in court because the agency hadn’t waited for environmental review to be completed.

To stop the lawsuit, state lawmakers passed a new law, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton, which exempts the IRRRB from state rules requiring state agencies to wait for environmental studies to be complete before investing in economic development projects.

The new action will come under the new law and is essentially a formality after the lawsuit was dropped last month.

PolyMet needs the money to help pay for private land it plans on buying to exchange with the U.S. Forest Service for 5,272 acres of Superior National Forest land where the proposed mine site is located. The IRRRB will hold title on the private land as collateral should the mining project founder and PolyMet not be able to repay the loan.