The proposed PolyMet sulfide copper mine poses a major threat to the wetlands, waters and wildlife of the Superior National Forest in northeast Minnesota. PolyMet seeks to construct an open-pit mine that would operate for 20 years and then require mechanical water treatment "indefinitely." Yet the company and regulatory agencies have not disclosed a plan for how PolyMet could possibly ensure adequate funding for centuries of water treatment, monitoring, maintenance and mitigation.
The mine would generate a staggering 15 million tons of waste rock every year, totaling over 300 million tons. Polluted tailings would be added to an existing taconite tailings basin that's already known to leak toxic chemicals. And both the mountain of waste rock and tailings basin would leach pollution into nearby groundwater, wetlands and streams on their way to Lake Superior.
The proposed mine would also destroy or indirectly harm thousands of acres of high quality wetlands, as well as habitat for northern long-eared bats, lynx and wolves.
The Forest Service knows this project isn't even allowed on the Superior National Forest. But instead of protecting this area, the agency has proposed a land swap with the mining company -- effectively giving away 6,000 acres of public lands and acting as if the area's environmental protections do not exist.
December 3, 2015 Action Alert ID# 306
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