Posted: 11/09/15 16:12
by Dave Mindeman
Let's face it. Mining always harms the environment. I don't care how many assurances a mining company gives us, it is simply not possible to protect all of it.
Polymet seems to be on the path to getting approval for its operation. All the political and business winds are blowing in that direction. But the concerns raised by the environmentalists are entirely valid.
Here is the analysis that is most concerning...
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will consider PolyMet's financial assurance covering the cost of reclamation when the mine closes, which could be about 20 years after operations start. Those costs would include water treatment as long as is necessary. "Financial assurance could be required indefinitely and could include self-sustaining instruments," according to the study.
There is no "financial assurance". Polymet will extract what it can for those 20 years and then they will move on. Merge with another company. File bankruptcy if warranted and remove all of their future obligations. It happens all the time. It's business.
The fact that the water has to be treated is all we need to know about the chances for future problems. The water is contaminated. It must be filtered and treated because it is dirty. It is will damage what it touches if not processed. And there is no possible way that Polymet can guarantee that there will be no accidents and frankly, they cannot guarantee that their water refinement will be enough.
If Polymet gets its approval the absolute very least we should do is to have citizen oversight....and when I say that, we need oversight with some real teeth. A citizen's board that can't be gutted. A board that can halt production at the first sign of trouble. A board that Polymet needs to give full disclosure to...and that can work as a partner in environmental safety.
A mining company will not fully police itself....that much is clear. So if approval is given (which seems likely at this point) than Minnesota has every right to protect its most precious natural resources.
We need that as a minimum standard.