The preliminary final Environmental Impact Statement released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in June states that with the engineering controls proposed by PolyMet, the project “would not cause any significant water quality impacts.”
While we agree with the agencies, not everyone shares that view. A letter submitted to regulators late in the environmental review process by an anti mining activist asserts that groundwater will flow north from the PolyMet site, eventually reaching and presumably harming the Boundary Waters.
The agencies and their independent contractor analyzed the letter, re-evaluated all of the available data and relied on existing real-life evidence to conclude that the likelihood of project groundwater moving through the bedrock toward the Boundary Waters is highly unlikely.
- Dewatering activities on nearby taconite mines have not had an adverse effect on the water levels in the Iron and Argo lakes nearby or the surrounding aquifer. In fact, the water level in these lakes has gradually increased by 2-3 feet in the 30-year dewatering period.
- Dewatering of taconite mine pits more than a mile from the NorthMet mine site would not affect the direction of groundwater flow at the NorthMet mine site. We know this based on an assessment of historical dewatering of taconite pits in the region, including the dewatering of one of these taconite pits, which has not affected the water level in another taconite pit that is only 500 feet away.
- Almost a decade of monitoring water levels in bedrock at the NorthMet mine site shows that groundwater from the NorthMet site will stay in the St. Louis River watershed.
- Open pit mines on the Iron Range historically and consistently do NOT create cones of depression that would shift groundwater flows at distances as great as those between the NorthMet and taconite mines.
Again, we’re confident that the project will meet all state and federal water quality standards. Our confidence is based on real world evidence, comprehensive groundwater monitoring, and regional data from the Iron Range – data that directly measures the reality of the situation.
After reviewing the anti mining activist letter, the
Additional information is available on the PolyMet project overview.