PolyMet will ask Minnesota Supreme to review permit decisions

PolyMet President and CEO Jon Cherry explains the benefits of nonferrous mining at a 2013 open house.

Poly Met Mining will ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn a state Court of Appeals decision remanding the company’s permit to mine and dam safety permits to the Department of Natural Resources for a contested case hearing.

“The issues raised by the court of appeals’ decision are, of course, important to our project, but equally, they have far reaching impact to the State of Minnesota and to any future project that seeks permits from the state,” said Jon Cherry, president and CEO, in a Thursday announcement. “The potential negative consequences of the decision to any industry or business in the state, and the many Iron Range communities and workers who stand to benefit economically from responsible copper-nickel mining, warrant the Minnesota Supreme Court’s attention.”

Cherry cited, as a primary basis for seeking review, the court’s decision to require an open-ended contested case hearing process, in spite of the DNR’s 15-year-long environmental review and permitting process for its copper-nickel-precious metals project. The process involved extraordinary amounts of public review, public comment and public meetings, PolyMet said. The proposed project already has been reviewed at public hearings held in previous years.

“No other company in the history of the state has been subjected to anywhere near the time and cost that was associated with this permitting process,” Cherry said. “We did everything the state and the law required, and more. And the process confirmed that our project will be protective of human health and the environment.

“The court’s decision greatly diminishes the role of expert state agencies and their commissioners in permitting in favor of administrative law judges. It sets a precedent that subjects the project and any future industrial project in the state to an endless loop of review, contested case hearings and appeals,” he said.

The company will file its petition for review to the Minnesota Supreme Court within the next 30 days.

Jobs for Minnesotans released a statement in support of PolyMet's plan to appeal.

“Jobs for Minnesotans firmly stands behind PolyMet’s decision to appeal the Minnesota Court of Appeals rulings on the NorthMet project’s permits to the Minnesota Supreme Court. We believe this project should move forward and the more than 10 years of extensive and thorough environmental review by state and federal agencies should be upheld. The rulings from earlier this week will have a much larger impact than just to the PolyMet project, but will create a ripple effect for any future project from responsible industries looking to do business in the State of Minnesota. The message this decision sends to the Northeastern Minnesota communities, businesses across the state and the impact on the state’s economy long-term warrants the Minnesota Supreme Court’s close attention.”

Cherry also reaffirmed the company’s resolve to push the project forward.

“The NorthMet deposit is abundant in metals that address climate change in the way of renewable and clean energy technologies. We are confident that we can produce these strategic metals responsibly, with Minnesota workers, and in compliance with all applicable regulations,” he said.