The Proposed PolyMet Mine is Too Dangerous for Northern Minnesota

1.)  The proposed PolyMet mine would not use best practices or technology. It relies on an above ground, open pit of wet tailings with a cascading dam wall, which will require water treatment for centuries. The international community, experts inside and outside of sulfide mine companies, and the UN have warned against using these designs.

2.)  These types of dams fail at an alarming rate. According to the USDA Forest Service, 29% of sulfide mine dams in the US have failed. All US sulfide mine dams have had spills.

3.)  The effects would be catastrophic to Northern Minnesota, the St. Louis River Watershed, and the Great Lakes. Sulfide mine dam spills in the US and around the world have released carcinogens, neurotoxins, and heavy metals into drinking water; left rivers devoid of life into perpetuity; and displaced entire communities.

4.)  Financial assurance would not cover accidental spills. The $544 million PolyMet promises would be used to close the mine and treat the water on site for centuries. For a catastrophe, PolyMet plans to carry $10 million in insurance. Costs such as importing drinking water, health care for related neurological disorders and birth defects, and loss in property values would fall to Minnesotans.

5.)  The world does not need another copper mine. Americans throw away more copper every year than the proposed PolyMet mine would provide. We stand in solidarity with communities around the world fighting sulfide mining. The answer is smarter use of copper, not more extraction.

6.)  The DNR is failing to enforce the law. This is the first test for sulfide mine permitting in Minnesota, and the DNR is choosing to ignore statutes that demand that these mines are maintenance free upon closure, and that the waste be no longer reactive or have water removed.

7.)  The proposed mine would bring an anti-union company. United Steelworkers said that Glencore, the company that would oversee the mining, has a history of broken promises and abuse of workers and communities across the globe.



1.) IEEIRP (2015) Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel (2015). The Report on the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facilities Breach. Vancouver, Province of British Columbia. p. 120 – 122 https://www.mountpolleyreviewpanel.ca/sites/default/files/report/ReportonMountPolleyTailingsStorageFacilityBreach.pdf

United Nations Environmental Program, 2017. “Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident, A Rapid Response Assessment.” p. 39, 63-64. https://www.grida.no/publications/383

2.) Thomas Tidwell, Chief of the USDA Forest Service, Dec 14, 2016. Link.

Lindsay Newland Bowker & David M. Chambers. The Risk, Public Liability, & Economics of Tailings Storage Facility Failures. July 21, 2015. Link

3.) United Nations Environmental Program, 2017. “Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident, A Rapid Response Assessment.” https://www.grida.no/publications/383

4.) https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/business/energy-and-mining/4377207-debate-raised-over-how-much-liability-coverage-polymet-should

5.) Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 2013 Statewide Waste Characterization, December 2013. p. 5-2 https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/w-sw1-60.pdf

Recycling and the Future of Mining," The Business of Mining, April 15, 2012. https://thebusinessofmining.com/2012/04/15/recycling-the-future-of-mining/

International Copper Study Group, World Copper Factbook 2016. p. 53, http://www.polymetmining.com/northmet-project/overview/

FAQ page.

6.) Minnesota Statues 6132.3200 https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/?id=6132.3200

Minnesota Statues 6132.2200 https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/?id=6132.2200

7.) United Steelworkers, “Glencore’s History of Broken Promises.” Jun 03, 2015. https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2015/glencores-history-of-broken-promises

United Steelworkers, “Sherwin Owner Glencore Takes 2nd in ‘Worst Company’ Contest: USW, Global Allies Present ‘Silver Medal’ at Conglomerate’s Houston Office.” Feb 26, 2015. https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/2015/sherwin-owner-glencore-takes-2nd-in-worst-company-contest