Northshore Mining seeks water quality certification from MPCA

Contact: Darin Broton, 651-226-0078

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today released a draft 401 water quality certification for Northshore Mining Company and is asking for public input on the draft certification. Northshore has proposed constructing a new embankment that will ultimately become part of the dam defining the final footprint of the Milepost 7 Tailings Basin. The project includes relocating the West Ridge railway approximately 4,000 feet to the northwest to accommodate the tailings basin expansion.

The Milepost 7 Tailings Basin project will directly impact approximately 310 acres of wetlands, as well as approximately 5,200 feet of Big Thirtynine Creek and 3,400 feet of Little Thirtynine Creek. Mitigation for wetland impacts is proposed through the purchase of wetland bank credits. Mitigation for stream impacts is proposed to include six separate stream restoration projects, to be completed by the applicant. 

The public is encouraged to provide comments on the draft 401 water quality certification by November 11, 2020. After the public comment closes, the MPCA will review any comments and, if necessary, make changes to the draft certification. The MPCA will then review the administrative record and decide what action to take on the request for certification. The MPCA needs to make a final decision by December 31, 2020, a deadline set by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Send written comments to Jen Oknich, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Rd. N., St. Paul, MN 55155 by 4:30 p.m. on November 11, 2020. Comments must state your interest, the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references, and specific reasons supporting your position.

In June 2018, Northshore submitted a joint application for a Section 404 permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The MPCA also received the first request for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification in 2018. The MPCA issued a Denial without Prejudice for the project in August 2019 because the information submitted was not sufficient to reasonably assure that all water quality standards would be met by the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ public notice period ended on September 26, 2020.

Visit the MPCA website for more information.