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Ely Minnesota

Polymet Has a Reputation of Getting it Right the First Time-So No Further Health Studies Needed According to Frank Ongaro

Recently Frank Ongaro, the Executive Director of Mining Minnesota took offense at a large group of Minnesota Doctors and Medical Associations who recommended review of health effects of Polymet’s project.   Mr. Ongaro’s response can be found on the Duluth News Tribune Website, the article was dated October 27, 2014.  His comments are basically pro-business arguments that he has been repeating since at least 2006.  The one thing missing from his newer rhetoric is the insistence that Polymet “has a reputation of getting it right the first time,” he used to state that boldly. He now insists they do have it right.   But, it is obvious from Polymet’s failed Draft Environmental Impact Statement DEIS and the thousands of comments and recommendations elicited by the subsequent  Supplemental DEIS, that Polymet does not know how to do it right, they just want us to think they do.  And, that appears to be Mr. Ongaro’s main function in life, making people believe that somebody knows how and we should just leave them alone, don’t ask questions and don’t suggest further health review of the project.

Is this the reason Mr. Ongaro believes in 2014 No Further Health Studies are Needed?


We all must insist that the State of Minnesota gets this right.  If the health of you and your family are being threatened by an industrial project, it is the right and the duty of health officials to say something, to ask questions, and if possible demand review.  To do otherwise would be professionally negligent.  I applaud and thank these professionals for standing up for us.  Personally,  I would rather take the recommendations of Medical Doctors, Medical Scientists and Medical Associations than those of a man with a degree in Business Administration and Executive Director of Mining Minnesota.

This is the response by some of the Duluth Doctors Mr. Ongaro attacked in his response to the request for further health reviews, from  the Duluth News Tribune November 7, 2014  titled,

 Doctors’ view: On PolyMet, the priority is health

 As Duluth doctors, our first priority is the health of our patients and community. We do not align ourselves with industry or with advocacy groups. Instead, we listen, communicate and ask questions.

Just because we use a resource like copper in modern society does not mean we should refrain from asking critical questions of the industry. As physicians, we have serious questions about sulfide mining in Northeastern Minnesota and would not make statements without first educating ourselves and consulting with experts. We’ve done extensive reading on the issue, have reviewed the PolyMet Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement and have met with the Minnesota departments of health and natural resources. Educating ourselves only has deepened our concern.

Minnesota has no experience with sulfide mining for copper. To date, we’ve been unable to identify any sulfide mine that has been developed, operated and closed without producing polluted drainage. This August, a tailings dam at a British Columbia copper and gold mine failed, sending 1.3 billion gallons of contamination into local waters. With 10 percent of the world’s freshwater within PolyMet’s watershed, our community has a lot at risk.

We must be proactive in asking, “How will PolyMet affect the long-term health of our community?” A health risk assessment for the PolyMet project is needed to answer this question.

As Duluth doctors, our concern is shared by many other health professionals. The Minnesota Public Health Association, the Minnesota Medical Association and more than 150 individual health professionals and scientists have asked for an assessment of PolyMet health impacts. Considering that the PolyMet plan involves several of the 10 toxins of major public health concern as identified by the World Health Organization — mercury, lead, arsenic and air pollutants — we recommend a health risk assessment as part of the PolyMet environmental review to examine health risks in careful, scientific detail.

PolyMet’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement did not give us confidence that human health will be protected. We note that information on mercury release and the potential for mercury bioaccumulation is insufficient. Mercury, a toxic metal, affects the developing brains of infants and children. Studies have shown that exposure to low levels of mercury over time affects learning, attention, memory and IQ. We know this already is a problem in our region and that a Minnesota Department of Health study found that one in 10 newborns in Minnesota’s Lake Superior basin was born with unsafe levels of mercury in the blood. This translates into behavior and learning problems for children. A recent study in the Lancet, a well-respected medical journal, discussed the rise of neurodevelopmental disabilities in children and pointed to industrial chemicals (including lead, mercury, arsenic and manganese) that injure the developing brain among the known causes for this rise in prevalence. Child and adolescent psychiatrists state that resources to address this already are strained.

More information also is needed on PolyMet’s release of arsenic, lead, manganese, mineral fibers and other air pollutants. The medical literature has established clear effects of air pollution on asthma, lung and heart disease. PolyMet’s proposed mine project also will result in the release of significant additional air pollution from electrical power generation used to operate the mine.

A growing number of doctors, nurses and professionals in Duluth and throughout the state want to make sure our community’s health is protected before the PolyMet project is considered. We will all live with the consequences of the PolyMet project here in Northeastern Minnesota. Shouldn’t we collectively expect better assurance that our health and the health of future generations is not placed at risk?

Drs. Susan Nordin, Emily Onello, Jennifer Pearson and Margaret Saracino practice in Duluth.




Acid Mine Drainage,from Copper Exploration-Ely, MN after 50 years

Acid Mine Drainage and a barren hill top from Spruce Road Hill top removal in the 1960'sOn the south side of the road not far from Outward Bound’s Home place is a barren hilltop where nothing grows expect a short 10-12″ course uniform dusty gray plant and a few, very few, Jack Pine.  This is  the flat top remaining from a large exploratory hill top removal, in search of  marketable minerals, by Inco in the 1960′s.  What they found, in the way of mineralization, was of insufficient quality to justify mining at that time.  What they left was a flat hilltop where nothing grows and the runoff is a bright orange as seen toward the end of the video.

This video shows you where the hilltop is located in Google Earth.  To visit this site, go south of Ely on Hwy 1.  Turn left onto Spruce Rd. just beyond the Kawishiwi bridge.  Go a short distance beyond the entrance to Outward Bound and watch for a parking area on your right in front of a short rise to this hill top.  Or set your GPS to Latitude  47.832424°   and Longitude -91.678229°  You could also enter these coordinates into Google Earth and zoom into the image above left.


Minnesota and mining: Our children, our waters and wild rice are political pawns

CC/Flickr/Brett Whaley

CC/Flickr/Brett Whaley

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announcement came just two weeks before public comments were due for PolyMet’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement. PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet Mine is the first in a long line of sulfide mining projects aimed at turning Minnesota’s Superior National Forest, the lake country of the Arrowhead, into a sulfide-mining district — a district that would impact both the Lake Superior and Rainy River watersheds, arguably in perpetuity.

The announcement? The MPCA had decided overnight not to release its recommendation to maintain or to change the 10mg/L sulfate standard for wild rice waters. Results from the MPCA wild rice study, released earlier, looked promising that the sulfate standard would be upheld. The timing of the agency’s postponement was too coincidental, too sudden, and it just plain reeked.  Now we know the stench was real. Investigative digging by the Star Tribune’s Josephine Marcotty uncovered its source: “Iron Range rebellion halted wild rice initiative.”

In 2010, when the MPCA finally decided to start enforcing the sulfate standard, the howls of protest from Iron Range legislators, sulfide mining lobbyists, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce could be heard echoing throughout the state Capitol. The Chamber of Commerce sued and lost. Unfortunately Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature initiated an unnecessary $1.5 million (taxpayer funded) wild-rice study; and now when the study did indeed indicate the current sulfate standard is reasonable and defensible, Dayton and MPCA Commissioner John Stine are again running for cover. Whatever happened to backing up your scientists instead of caving to political and corporate interests?

Whatever happened to putting the health of the public front and center? The people of northeastern Minnesota have been corporate victims for far too long. And saying so is not denigrating the Iron Range heritage, much as certain Range politicians ratchet up inflammatory rhetoric.

What’s preventing a hard look at the industry?
It is long past time to take a hard look at the mining industry in Minnesota, an industry that still does not meet state water- and/or air-quality standards at any of its currently operating taconite mines. Why not?

Take your pick: lack of enforcement by agency heads; political blackmail by entrenched Iron Range legislators under the guise of jobs; familiar threats by mining corporations to close their doors and leave; or the machinations by the Chamber of Commerce, paying for its own crazed wild-rice report stating that sulfate standards are unnecessary or could be set at 1600 mg/L., with PolyMet Mining, US Steel Corp., Xcel Energy, and the Koch Brothers (Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC.) represented on its board of directors.

Minnesotans continue to be told we should welcome foreign mining corporations with reprehensible records who will magically be able to do a perfect job with sulfide mining, an even more toxic mining process for our waters than taconite. We are told to believe that the decisionmakers at state agencies will suddenly start demanding adherence, insist on writing and enforcing strong water quality standards, never bowing to political pressure. We might as well believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

Remember the mesothelioma-study cover-up? In 2007 Sen. John Marty wrote, “MN Health Department Cover-up – Mistake or Malfeasance?” about MDH’s withholding of information on mining deaths — information that was critical to Minnesota taconite miners’ health.

Again, as in 2007, no one involved in responding to the wild-rice study is thinking foremost about the health of the people, in this case especially the health of our children.

Whoa, someone will say. This is about wild rice, not about people.

Really? Those same sulfates that ultimately lead to damage of wild rice also ultimately lead to damage of our children through conversion of inorganic mercury to methyl mercury. [“Methyl mercury is particularly damaging to developing embryos, which are five to ten times more sensitive than adults.” (USGS)] In 2011, the MDH released its study, “Mercury in Newborns in the Lake Superior Basin.” In Minnesota, 10 percent of tested newborns were above “safe” levels for methyl mercury.

It is not just the fish we eat that we need to be concerned about either. Studies in California have shown that wild-rice plants apparently have the capability to uptake methyl mercury to the seeds. Yet the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce was adamant that methyl mercury could not be discussed during the wild-rice/sulfate standard study.

A message
To past and present Chamber of Commerce executives, attorneys, and board members; corporate lobbyists; power and mining industry executives; Iron Range legislators; Minnesota governors; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources commissioners, Land and Minerals Division directors; MDH commissioners; and the MPCA commissioners and directors who initiated the use of variances and consent decrees, who just a year ago abruptly walked away from a million dollar four-year project (TMDL) designed to identify sources of mercury pollution in the St. Louis River: Ask yourselves how many people have died or been physically or neurologically damaged by your actions or inaction.

How many have died from mesothelioma or from other mining-related health issues, deaths that may have been prevented? How many lives have been shortened? How many children have been brain damaged? It is time we talk about accountability and responsibility.

How many children have been neurologically damaged by toxic levels of manganese from the LTV/PolyMet site; or damaged by nickel (Dunka Mine), a carcinogen and a mutagen? What about autism; now linked to mercury, manganese, and nickel in air pollution? (2013 Harvard University Study). How many newborns have lost IQ points proportional to the amount of mercury above “safe” levels in their blood? How does this affect their success in school? When these children reach adulthood how many jobs are denied them as a result? What is the cost for the loss of possibilities in a life?

What is the cost of a life?

This is Minnesota’s watershed moment, literally and figuratively. For the St. Louis River Watershed and Lake Superior, for the Rainy River Watershed and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, for the Mississippi River Watershed, and for ourselves. Will we protect our water, and in so doing protect our health? Protect our children?

Will we speak? Or will we be silent? Silence is complicity.

C.A. Arneson lives on a lake in the Ely area.  This article was first published in MinnPost April 15, 2014

Mike Clark, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, speaking at Sigurd Olson Lecture Series

The 2014 Sigurd Olson Lecture Series is the 15th year these lectures have been given. This year Mike Clark of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition stated that he is unaware of anyplace where sulfide mining has occurred that there was not significant pollution as a result. He described how his coalition stopped mining in Yellowstone National Park. A difficult task when confronted with the amount of gold and copper in the ground and the mining companies deep pockets and political influence. All of which sounds quite familiar to anyone involved with Sulfide Mining efforts in Minnesota.

“Fool Me Twice” author Shawn Otto explains importance of science

Shawn Otto, speaking to Ely Tuesday Group on April 8, 2014, explained the importance of science in our lives and the political decision-making process. As he wrote in his book “Fool Me Twice,” Mr. Otto suggests our politicians debate important issues facing us and all of mankind, including energy, education, water, the environment, health, climate change, and scientific integrity. It would be difficult not to reach the same conclusion as he, that “Leaving these challenges unaddressed takes from Americans the full measure of health, wonder, freedom, and prosperity we might otherwise secure with the help of science and exposes our lands, waters, and bodies to disease and destruction.” Mr. Otto felt so strongly about the importance of science in National discourse that he created the website for American Science Debate and has started a drive to get politicians to sign a pledge to debate “The 14 Top Science Questions Facing America.”

Pro-Mining meeting in Ely, MN featuring James Skurla and Tommy Rukavina

Approximately 35 pro-mining advocates met Wed. March 5, 2014 at Amici’s in Ely, MN to promote and discuss the benefits of mining in Minnesota. The main speaker was James Skurla from the University of Minnesota Duluth who presented his report on The Economic Impact of Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Mining.  Unfortunately, the title of his talk is a misnomer.  Mr. Skurla quickly points out that his study was not a cost benefits analysis, but that this type of economic study is useful none the less.  And, he is correct a benefits analysis is useful when comparing multiple projects.  This however is a Benefits analysis only with no other competing projects or alternative options for comparison.  A true Cost/Benefits analysis of hard  rock mining can be seen here: Dr. Power’s Cost/Benefits analysis of hard rock mining.

There were four speakers at this event, sponsored by Up North Jobs, Ely Echo, & Mining Minnesota.  James Skurla, Tommy Rukavina, Jay Maki, and Bill Erzar.  Due to the length of the overall program each speaker will be presented here in order of appearance at the meeting.

James Skurla, U of M Duluth

Representative Tommy Rukavian

Ely Resident Jay Maki

Ely Resident Bill Erzar

The facts presented by these individuals is definately not in question.  The declining population, declining school enrollment, and non optimal economic conditions in Ely is well understood by all.  The fact that the Taconite industry has contributed GREATLY to the state and local communities specifically is WITHOUT doubt.

The solution to Ely’s problems is or should be up for debate and we would agree with Bill Erzar that it would be best if we all worked together to do so.  The belief that Non-Ferrous mining in this region could be the panacea for all ills and will be done in an environmentally safe manner is an unproven  unscientific belief and should be open for discussion.  We all should demand  the mining companies PR and promises be proven scientifically beyond all reasonable doubt.  Designing and building a project based on belief, hoping to patch any errors as we go, is a certain recipe for disaster especially in Non-Ferrous mining.

Ely Citizens Discuss the Polymet Copper Sulfide Ore Project Proposed for our Watershed

Aaron Klemz, Communications Director for Friends of the Boundary Waters, led a lively community discussion in Ely, MN about the Polymet Copper Sulfide Ore mining project, February 24, 2014. As with any community discussion, especially an emotionally charged issue like sulfide mining, it is sometimes difficult to effectively distinguish facts from beliefs, especially long and strongly held beliefs that now have become facts for some. However, in this meeting Aaron shows why he is the Communications Director by artfully and respectfully staying on point by directing discussion toward meaningful issues we should all know about if we are to make proper decisions regarding the Polymet Project. Thanks Aaron!

Polymet 101 or The essentials of Copper Sulfide Mining Revisited-A Summary Todate

Published in the Zenith City Weekly, Vol. 8 Issue 114 on Feb. 11, 2014 by Anne Stewart
Layout 1

Compare the Polymet 101 Summary with what we knew in 2008 VCC Panel Discusion

Anne Stewart
Zenith City Weekly

After PolyMet released its latest plans on December 6, an estimated 3,650 people attended public hearings in Duluth, St. Paul, and Aurora, to comment on the 2,200–page Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).

The Canadian–owned company produced the SDEIS with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US Forest Service, after the Environmental Protection Agency rejected the first plan in 2010 for unsatisfactory water quality, wetlands impact, and failure to address clean–up costs once the mine closes.

The company is seeking permits to build a mine with three open pits, the deepest reaching 696 feet, on 16,700 acres at the former LTV site near Hoyt Lakes. The project includes refurbishing LTV’s processing plant and building a “hydrometallurgical facility” for extracting nickel, cobalt, and other precious metals.

PolyMet would process 73,068 tons of rock per day—225 million tons of ore and 308 million tons of waste rock over the life of the project. “Tailings,” a slurry of fine–particle waste suspended in water, would be deposited on top of LTV’s old tailings basin.

A coalition of the Bois Forte, Grand Portage, and Fond du Lac Chippewa Bands, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the 1854 Treaty Authority was invited to be a cooperating agency in the preparation of the SDEIS.

In their response, included as Appendix C, the Bands address 18 areas of concern and reiterate their rights under the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe to access ceded land for hunting, fishing, and ricing.

The Bands questioned predictive models for the amount of pollutants to be released, because the models were based on data from other sites, not on current water data from the project site and surrounding area.

The interaction of water flow between the mine and wetlands was also a concern. The company commissioned an aboveground survey, but didn’t study the type of rock or structure beneath the wetlands.

In the SDEIS, the Canisteo pit on the Mesabi Range is used as an “analogous model,” but the Bands pointed out that PolyMet’s pits would be twice as deep. “Thus the effect on surrounding aquifer would be greater” because the pits will reach twice as far into the bedrock, increasing the potential for groundwater pollution.

Then a DNR internal memo surfaced, dated December 13, suggesting the DNR knew all along that the modeling data were inaccurate and many of the mine’s water quality projections are tied to this data.

“This validates tribal science. Their concerns deserve a second look,” says Paula Maccabee, an environmental lawyer who first obtained the DNR memo and has been one of PolyMet’s most vocal critics. “What’s going to win here, science or politics?”

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) impaired waters list includes streams within the PolyMet drainage area and identifies mercury in fish as the problem. In 2009, this became the subject of a “TMDL,” or “Total Maximum Daily Load,” which involves studying an impaired body of water, setting goals to remediate it, and then setting the maximum contaminants allowable to meet the goal.

The Fond du Lac Band, one of the TMDL participants, has accused the MPCA of effectively withdrawing from the study and “grinding it to a halt.” The MPCA maintains that the TMDL is “on hold,” because “modeling used was not sufficient to give the right answer” as to which contaminants are contributing to the high levels of mercury in fish tissue. Regarding the TMDL, the SDEIS says further study needs to be completed before “consideration can be given to permit conditions for individual projects.”

PolyMet’s potential contaminants include arsenic, manganese, sulfate, and heavy metals, such as lead. Contamination could continue for as long as 200 years at the mine site and 500 years at the plant site.

During operations, mine pit water will be treated with chemical precipitation, which involves introducing a chemical specific to each contaminant that causes it to drop out of the solution, or “precipitate.” The water will then be piped to the tailings basin, which will serve as a source of water for production along with water drawn from Colby Lake.

Process water will be recirculated and finally go through reverse osmosis, which uses a combination of electricity and a semi–permeable membrane to filter the water before it is discharged into nearby creeks.

The waste from water treatment will be hauled offsite to a landfill. Hydrometallurgical residue will be deposited on–site. When the mine closes, the residue will be covered with tailings, soil, and “if necessary” with a clay barrier and polyethylene liner. The words “if necessary” appear often in the SDEIS.

The tailings basin and pit lake will have a containment system of dikes, dams, ditches, pumps, and pipes to collect water and return it to the tailings basin, one side of which is in bedrock that PolyMet maintains will not fracture because of the rock type.

Twenty years after closure, the west pit is predicted to overflow. Overflow water will be redirected back into the west pit and—”if necessary”—the mine site’s wastewater treatment facility would be upgraded to a reverse osmosis system.

Another form of on–site water treatment will be constructed wetlands, which remove heavy metals, but require monitoring indefinitely. Who will perform this monitoring is not addressed in the SDEIS.

Jennifer Saran, Director of Environmental Permitting and Compliance for PolyMet, says they can contract with a company that specializes in long–term monitoring. Details will be included in the reclamation plan submitted for closure.

Funding for long–term maintenance will be addressed in the “financial assurances”—PolyMet’s plan to pay for ongoing expenses after closure—but this, too, may not be addressed until closure nears.

According to the SDEIS, water treatment will continue “as long as…monitoring shows treatment is required.” Saran says the company hopes to transfer to a “passive, non–mechanical” system, in which mine site water will be directed by gravity to a permanent filtering system and then into the Partridge River.

Costs for closure and maintenance are $320 million for the first 20 years and $3.5 to $6 million per year for the next two to five centuries, equaling several billion dollars. Even if costs decrease and there is no inflation, PolyMet is making a long–term promise.

Glencore, a Swiss commodities company with a controlling stock interest in PolyMet, is the major financer of the mining company, which has no current income. If PolyMet goes out of business, it’s unclear whether Glencore would have any legal responsibility for long–term pollution control costs.

According to Paula Maccabee, “It’s an open question whether Glencore’s strategic partnership would be enough to create legal responsibility.”

While it makes sense to build a new mine at the site of a defunct one, PolyMet’s tailings will be deposited on top of the old LTV tailings basin, which has been leaking for years. In 2010, the site owner, Cliffs Erie, was ordered to collect and discharge the water.

PolyMet would incorporate the current discharge into its own containment and treatment system. Once Cliffs Erie’s discharge permits are transferred to PolyMet, PolyMet becomes responsible for the site.

However, PolyMet doesn’t yet own the land it wants to mine. PolyMet owns the underlying mineral leases, but the US Forest Service owns the surface rights. A land exchange between PolyMet and the Forest Service is crucial for the project to become a reality.

Some of the land PolyMet plans to exchange was purchased by PolyMet with mortgages from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, an agency created by the legislature to diversify the Iron Range economy and make it less dependent on mining.

The primary purpose of this land exchange, rather than a direct sale, is explicitly to sidestep the Weeks Act, which was enacted in 1911 to preserve waterways and prohibits the use or sale of land purchased under the Act for surface mining.

The land exchange trades 6,650 acres of Forest Service land for 6,722.5 acres from PolyMet. The largest parcel the Forest Service would receive is 4615.5 acres at Hay Lake near Biwabic. The rest are smaller tracts in the Superior National Forest.

The SDEIS describes these parcels as having low potential for minerals, although one of the tracts in Lake County is “subject to mineral reservation that includes the right to sink, cave, disturb or remove surface material.” All but one parcel has the mineral rights severed from the surface rights.

The land PolyMet would receive in exchange encompasses 53 percent of the “One Hundred Mile Swamp,” approximately 3,028 acres rated by the DNR as high in biodiversity.

When asked if the Weeks Act prohibition on mining will transfer to the acquired properties, Liz Schleif of the US Forest Service said yes, but titles still needed to be examined. Like much of the SDEIS, final details have not yet been determined.

In 2012, the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at the University of Minnesota Duluth conducted a study of “The Economic Impact of Ferrous and Non–Ferrous Mining on the State of Minnesota and the Arrowhead Region, including Douglas County, Wisconsin.”

Funded in large part by the mining industry, the results showed entirely positive economic outcomes from 20 years of mining jobs and associated economic activity. The study did not address potential effects on logging, recreation, tourism, or independent manufacturers and businesses.

It’s even possible that PolyMet will continue operations beyond the 20 years posited in the SDEIS. Future proposals now in the planning stages, such as Twin Metals and Tech Cominco, could eventually take over PolyMet’s processing plant, or PolyMet might identify and mine other locations itself.

Additional concerns noted in the SDEIS and/or among the comments of many participants in the Duluth, Aurora, and St. Paul public hearings include:

•Mining and other development have left only 18 narrow wildlife corridors on the Iron Range. The loss of a wetland corridor makes it particularly hard for aquatic species to migrate.
•Draw–down and reduction in water quality of Colby Lake, which is Hoyt Lakes’ source of drinking water.
•Contamination of nearby wells.
•The impact of sulfate discharge on wild rice.
•Mercury levels in humans and wildlife.
•Tailings basin failure due to unforeseen weather events, human error, or simply giving out due to age.
•”Amphibole fibers,” similar to asbestos and causes similar health concerns. Worker safety is not addressed in the SDEIS.
•Migrating waterfowl feeding in the pit lake, which will have a high acid content.
If the SDEIS is approved, PolyMet will then apply to various agencies for 15 or more permits, including the right to withdraw water from Colby Lake and a permit to mine (DNR); for the management, treatment, and/or discharge of water and air emissions (MPCA); and for on–site sewage disposal and an on–site water supply (Minnesota Department of Health).

The SDEIS process includes a public comment period, which is currently open until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 13. Anyone may comment, but agency representatives ask that comments be specific to the SDEIS. The best approach is to select one area and provide specific, relevant experiences or data. Opinions without specific reference to the issues raised in the SDEIS will not be given serious weight.

The SDEIS can be viewed online or downloaded at

Comments may be emailed to Email submissions should include a full name and mailing address. Written comments may also be submitted to:

Lisa Fay, EIS Project Manager
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Division of Ecological and Water Resources
Environmental Review Unit
500 Lafayette Road, Box 25
St. Paul, MN 55155–4025

Anne Stewart is a freelance writer who lives near Ely. Canoeing, camping, and snowshoeing are high on her activity list. She has, in the past, given testimony questioning the wisdom of non–ferrous mining in northeastern Minnesota. Her writing has appeared in Boundary Waters Journal, Ely Summer & Winter Times, and other local venues. In 2007, she published a children’s book, I Saw a Moose Today. Her website is

"They (Polymet?) have the reputation of getting it right the first time!"

That statement is an exact quote from Minnesota Mining’s Frank Ongaro, made during a panel discussion at Vermilion Community College in 2008. That was before the dramatic failure of Polymet and its DEIS(Draft Environmental Impact Statement), which the EPA gave the worst rating possible.

If Polymet has an inkling of what they are doing why haven’t they been able to prove in the six years since 2008 that they truly can protect the environment in Northeastern Minnesota. The issues are the same today as they were in 2008 and Polymet is the reason.

This video points out how wrong Polymet is, how strongly the mining industry relies on high-pressure tactics and why we should never believe a pitch man or salesman when it’s obvious they are trying to sell us something. Polymet relied heavily on the fast-talking Frank Ongaro in 2008; now they are turning to the top pitchman in the stable, Polymet CEO John Cherry. Why should we believe him? We shouldn’t. The facts are that Polymet DID NOT get it right the first time! And they haven’t gotten it right this time.

In 2008, Ongaro mentioned “a lot of new technology … and advanced technology.” Of course he didn’t give details, just indicated there would be a lot of MAGIC happening with Polymet. Polymet’s magic has caused the delays in their project that they so vehemently decry. They have done very little to prove they will protect Northeastern Minnesota and Lake Superior, yet they continue to beg (with their Hollywood-style TV ads) us to believe they have something magical that no copper mining company has EVER achieved: environmental success, a non-polluting process.

Glencore the Beast - You should know about Glencore!

Glencore, a Swiss commodities company with a controlling stock interest in PolyMet, is the major financier of the mining company, which has no current income. Some say that it’s unclear whether Glencore would have any legal responsibility for long–term pollution control costs. However, it is quite clear that Glencore would not under any circumstances accept that type of liability, it’s not there STYLE or history.

Would you trust your valuable resources to Glencore? Check out the founder of Glencore, Marc Rich. This political intrigue and chicanery is more House of Cards than the TV series could hope to be, sorry Kevin.