Bills asks for money first before mining OKBackers of a mining project expected to create hundreds of jobs and $242 million in economic impact fear it could hit a snag if Minnesota legislators pass a bill requiring the mining company to pay more money up front for eventual environmental clean-up.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
Backers of a mining project expected to create hundreds of jobs and $242 million in economic impact fear it could hit a snag if Minnesota legislators pass a bill requiring the mining company to pay more money up front for eventual environmental clean-up.
PolyMet Mining Corp. is closing in on the government permits and approvals necessary needed to open a $602 million project near Babbitt, at the eastern end of the Mesabi Iron Range. PolyMet would extract copper, nickel, cobalt and other minerals that would be used in medical and electrical devices, automobiles, and jewelry.
Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan, said he doesn’t aim to derail the project but wants to establish safeguards in case a mining company pollutes the water, then tries to skip town without cleaning up.
“I want to make sure that our stakeholders, the taxpayers of Minnesota, aren’t left on the hook,” he said.
Company and mining industry officials say the bill would delay PolyMet’s project and duplicate existing laws. Some think it is an attempt to quash the project.
“I think part of the real reason they’re pushing the bill is they’re trying to find ways to delay these projects and discourage investors from investing in Minnesota,” said LaTisha Gietzen, PolyMet vice president of public affairs.
Carlson said he understands there are laws in place but said he believes they need to be clarified. The bill would take portions of existing law and apply them specifically to this new mining industry.
“What I’d like to promote is that we look at these things as responsibly as possible and we understand all the possible, potential issues ... and we address them upfront,” Carlson said.
John Tuma, a lobbyist working with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, said mining companies have a history of leaving behind expensive clean-ups.
Under the bill, “you have to tell us how much that is going to cost and you have to put the damage deposit down upfront,” Tuma said.