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Supreme Court orders new hearing in PolyMet mine dispute

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court has given a victory to environmentalists in the long-running battle over the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota.

The court on Wednesday sent the dispute back to the state Department of Natural Resources for further proceedings on whether the mine’s waste pond would effectively keep pollution contained.

The Supreme Court also affirmed a 2020 decision by the Minnesota Court of Appeals to reverse the DNR’s decision to grant PolyMet a critical “permit to mine” because the state agency failed to set a fixed term for the permit.

It ordered the DNR to set an appropriate term.

DNR statement on PolyMet court decision:

We appreciate and respect the Court’s careful evaluation of issues related to the DNR’s first application of Minnesota’s non-ferrous mining statute and rules. Notably, the Court offered a clarifying interpretation of who has standing to request a contested case hearing, but concurred with the DNR’s application of the standards for granting a contest case hearing.  The Court found ample evidence in the permit records to support the DNR’s decisions on the critical issues of dam safety and tailings basin closure.  The Court further found that DNR did not need to hold a contested case hearing on financial assurance or whether Glencore was required to be on the permit to mine at the time of permit issuance. We will carefully review and implement the Court’s instructions regarding establishing a fixed term for the permit to mine and granting a contested case hearing on whether bentonite is a practicable and workable technology to reduce oxygen infiltration into the project tailings.   

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

We'll have more tonight and what this means for PolyMet on the KBJR 6 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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Associated Press

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