MPCA releases first draft permit for Prairie River Minerals demonstration project

Contact: Cori Rude-Young, 651-757-2680

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today released its draft water-quality permit for the Prairie River Minerals demonstration project near Coleraine. It’s the first of two permits; the MPCA expects to release a draft air permit for the facility later this fall.

The demonstration-scale facility will process material from existing natural ore waste rock stockpiles, which is called scram mining. Prairie River will use ultra-high dense medium separation technology to produce high-grade iron lump ore and other product for evaluation at steel-making facilities. The demonstration project will process a limited amount of material (up to 500,000 metric tons) over a period of approximately three to nine months.

The draft permit doesn’t allow the demonstration project to discharge process water to lakes, streams, or other surface waters. The draft water-quality permit requires the facility to:

  • Prevent a surface discharge and protect groundwater quality.
  • Apply for major permit modifications (with opportunity for public comment) before it can extend the demonstration project, go full-scale, or otherwise process more than 500,000 metric tons of material.

The MPCA is asking for public input on the draft water quality permit, which is available on the MPCA web site. Send written comments to Stephanie Handeland (651-757-2405), Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., St. Paul, MN 55155 by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, October 23, 2020. The MPCA will review any comments and, if necessary, make changes to the draft permit. The MPCA will then review the administrative record and decide whether to issue the permit.

Comments must include a statement of the respondent’s interest in the permit, and the action you are requesting from the MPCA, including specific changes to sections of the draft report and the reasons for making those changes.