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Corps of Engineers issues Northshore Mining Company permit

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Sept. 23, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District issued a permit to Northshore Mining Company today for discharges of dredged and fill material into waters of the United States resulting from its Tailings Basin Progression project.

The Corps determined the Northshore Mining Company Basin Progression project is compliant with all applicable federal laws and regulations. This includes complying with the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and the project not being contrary to the public interest.

Alternatives were considered prior to granting the permit, including dry stacking, and the progression at the proposed location was found to be the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative.

“We arrived at our decision after an extensive, multi-year review in consultation with Tribal governments, state and federal agencies, and the general public,” said Col. Karl Jansen, St Paul District commander. “The process identified permanent impacts associated with the federal regulated activity and informed how the applicant must appropriately avoid, minimize or mitigate for them. We are confident that we issued a permit that reflects the national concern for the protection and utilization of important natural resources.”

The Corps is one of several permitting agencies that reviewed the project, and its permit solely authorizes Northshore Mining Company to discharge dredged and fill material within waters regulated by the federal government. Congress has not authorized the Corps, or any other federal agency, to regulate overall construction or operation of mines.

The Corps considered the various state agency’s approvals and recommendations in its permit review process. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is the expert on dam safety and is responsible for the permit to mine, which includes the construction of the dams. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has authority for water and air quality.

The Corps initiated the tribal consultation process on this project in 2017 with nine Tribes, as well as hosted two public comment periods.

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Release no. 21-082