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State Urged To "Go Slow" On New Mine Proposal

October 7, 2008

St. Paul, MN – A proposed northern Minnesota sulfide mine is raising major concerns. Mary Marrow with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy says it would use techniques new to the state that have a bad reputation.

"They have a high probability of emitting sulfuric acid as a runoff. That would be devastating for the rivers, streams and lakes where this acid mine drainage occurs."

Marrow says the Center has outlined its concerns to the Department of Natural Resources, which is reviewing the plan. She says the Department is required to recommend methods that may leave a smaller environmental footprint.

"This proposed mine is an open pit mine. There is an alternative technology--an underground mine--that could be feasible, yet the department is failing to consider that. This is a violation of Minnesota law."

She says the Department's approach could set a precedent; a half-dozen other Minnesota mines using similar technology are reportedly on the drawing boards.

Marrow says, while the top concern is sulfuric acid runoff into waterways, there are others.

"There is the destruction of habitat. There are air quality concerns. There are a lot of chemicals that are used in the processing of the ore. It's just a huge destruction of the land surface"

She says the mining technique exposes sulfides to air and water, creating sulfuric acid, which could contaminate waterways, including Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters. PolyMet, the company proposing the mine, says environmental fears are unfounded, and the mine would create much-needed jobs.

For more information online, visit www.mncenter.org.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN