PolyMet Site Tour: Progress After Permitting

Updated: April 04, 2019 09:55 AM

Near the top of the PolyMet plant site in Hoyt lakes, the fresh coating of snow and wind made for a chilly view over the landscape that was once LTV. And precipitation and wind speed will be important to know, when they are operating. So the company recently installed a meteorological station.

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"We need the weather data for air modeling and air monitoring, and for our water appropriations and related dam permits," shared Kevin Pylka, an environmental manager. It's powered by a solar panel, and rises nearly 200 feet into the sky. "It was fun, because it's unique for a large mining company to have a tower like this go up."

Now it's in the commissioning phase, to make sure it's reading information correctly.

Closer to the adminsitration building, there's an air monitoring station. "It monitors the particulates in the air. We'll have two at the mine site, when we are operating," according to Pylka.

They also spent the winter drilling monitoring wells near the mine site. "We did about 20. And ultimately we'll have 140 monitoring sites," he explained. The wells are between 300 feet and 15 feet deep, and will be for monitoring water quality and water depth.

It's been exciting, he said, to be in this phase of the project. PolyMet now has all the permits they need for the copper nickel venture, and are moving into the compliance phase. That means making sure they are following all the steps and requirements in those permits. This week, PolyMet submitted their first annual report to the DNR.

He has spent time documenting all 134 buildings on site. Some will stay, and some will be torn down to make room for new structures.

Pylka has been with PolyMet since 2007. "It's exciting to be the first permitted copper-nickel mine in Minnesota. We're looking forward to bringing it into operation and doing it responsibly," he added.

PolyMet is not hiring at the moment, but will be adding key staff this year, and plans on ramping up the workforce even more in 2020. "My family is excited, my coworkers are excited. Some who had worked at LTV, and are now here," Pylka shared.

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