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Environmental Review Support and Permitting

Background

Foth assisted the PolyMet team in the environmental review process with a particular emphasis on the hydrologic and geochemical studies, and hydrologic modeling. Our tasks have included reviewing many facets of the groundwater and geochemical modeling work related to the EIS, alternatives analysis related to mine development and reclamation per NEPA requirements, research on financial assurance and long-term care related to “perpetual treatment.” Permitting support activities included mine permit preparation, review of the air quality modeling, configuration of the Air Quality Permit Application, tailings and waste rock management, and more.

Approach

Foth’s team prepared the definitive documentation on the conceptual model and modeling documentation to secure USEPA’s acceptance of the modeling work for the Environmental Impact Statement. We completed hydrologic studies to address data gaps related to potential litigation, including detailed bedrock hydrogeologic studies to assess issues related to mine dewatering and potential impacts to surface water resources such as streams and wetlands.

We also worked with PolyMet on the preparation of the Permit to Mine Application including the preparation of the financial assurance estimate. The application included plans for remediation of legacy mining issues around old mining pits and tailings facilities, waste rock management plans for minimizing impacts to groundwater and surface water, mine pit closure, tailings facility closure, environmental monitoring during operations and after closure, and financial assurance. In our project role, we have participated in numerous meetings with the MDNR and MPCA related to permit issuance and permit conditions.

Results

Foth’s team contributed to many substantive improvements in the project leading to PolyMet securing all necessary permits for Minnesota’s first nonferrous copper-nickel mining project.

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