Oberstar At Polymet

By KBJR News 1

August 30, 2010 Updated Aug 30, 2010 at 8:02 AM CDT

The process of opening that mine, however, has taken longer than expected.

Congressman Jim Oberstar toured the site of the proposed mine Friday and reiterated the need for the NorthMet project to begin.

For the Hoyt Lakes and Aurora communities PolyMet's NorthMet project has been a long time coming.

"I know our community and our citizens have been very patient but very anxious," said Aurora Mayor Mary Hess.

The new project is a proposed nonferrous mine on the site of the former LTV taconite mine.

When the old LTV mine shut down in 2001 the Aurora and Hoyt Lakes area took a huge hit, losing almost 1,400 jobs.

"We worked really, really hard to keep people's hope up that something else would come along and provide them jobs," said Hoyt Lakes Mayor Marlene Pospeck.

Supporters say a nonferrous mine would do just that providing an estimated 400 stable jobs in the communities.

"We are defined by faith, family, and work. And when you lose anyone of those, the others are threatened," said Congressman Oberstar.

While the nonferrous mine brings with it hopes for jobs, some say it also brings a major threat to the environment.

But Congressman Oberstar assures that the "pressure cooker" like autoclave process to be used in the mining process will protect the environment from harmful emissions.

"It's a totally enclosed hydrometallurgical process that will have no air emissions and totally contained water emissions," said Congressman Oberstar.

Oberstar points to what the future of non ferrous mining would mean to the Iron Range.

"We can reclaim not only the copper and the nickel, but we can reclaim lost jobs from Northeastern Minnesota," said Congressman Oberstar.

Polymet is currently in the process of putting together a supplemental environmental impact statement.