Prairie River Minerals proposed demonstration project

Prairie River Minerals is proposing to construct and operate a demonstration-scale scram mining and processing facility near Coleraine, Minnesota. The proposed demonstration project will process material from existing natural ore waste rock stockpiles utilizing ultra-high dense medium separation (UHDMS) technology to produce high grade iron lump ore and sinter feed product for evaluation at steel making facilities. The demonstration project involves the processing of a limited amount of material (up to 500,000 metric tons) over a period of approximately three to nine months.

Public comment open for air quality permit

Prairie River Minerals LLC has applied for issuance of an initial State Permit air quality permit. The MPCA has reviewed the application and is asking for public input on the draft permit. The MPCA considers all written comments it receives during this period when making its decision.

The draft air quality permit and technical support document are available for public review and comment from October 9 to November 9, 2020.

Written comments (mail or email) should include:

  1. Your interest in the permit application or the draft permit.
  2. The action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to the section of the draft permit you believe should be changed.
  3. The reasons supporting your position, stated with sufficient specificity as to allow the MPCA to investigate the merits of the position.

Direct comments on the draft air quality permit to:
Ben Wenkel
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Industrial Division
520 Lafayette Rd, St. Paul, MN 55155
benjamin.wenkel@state.mn.us 

Draft permits and supporting documents

    Air permit public notice documents and application materials

    Water permit public notice documents and application materials

    Public notice on the draft water quality permit and statement of basis closed on October 23, 2020. 

    Permits needed

    The Prairie River Minerals demonstration plant is located near Coleraine, Minnesota.Prairie River Minerals needs to obtain a water quality and air permit from the MPCA before construction can begin. Once an applications are submitted, the MPCA will review and any draft permits will have public comment.

    Proposed water permit

    A water permit is a legal document that describes how a facility must operate in order to meet federal and state water quality requirements. The manner in which wastewater generated by the facility is managed and disposed of determines what type of permit is needed and what specific regulations apply. When reviewing the application materials, the MPCA reviews how the facility generates and disposes of wastewater and develops permit conditions and monitoring and reporting requirements. The MPCA drafts a water permit detailing these requirements and a statement of basis which contains the justification for the permit requirements.

    The MPCA has drafted a State Disposal System (SDS) water permit for the Prairie River Minerals demonstration project because the proposed facility will not discharge process water to surface waters of the state. The draft SDS permit includes:

    • Requirements that ensure a surface discharge does not occur and provides protections to groundwater quality.
    • Provisions that requires Prairie River Minerals to submit an application for a major modification of the permit (with opportunity for public comment) should they wish to extend the demonstration project, go full-scale or to otherwise exceed the processing of 500,000 metric tons of material.

    Proposed air permit

    An air permit is a legal document that describes how a facility must operate in order to meet federal and state air quality requirements. The type and quantity of pollutants emitted determines what type of permit is needed and what regulations apply. When reviewing the application materials, the MPCA determines how each piece of equipment must operate, often setting maximum production rates, emission limits, monitoring, and recordkeeping requirements. The MPCA drafts an air permit detailing these requirements and a technical support document (TSD) which contains the justification for the permit requirements.

    The draft air permit covers operations at the proposed Prairie River Minerals facility that emit air pollution, which includes primarily dust from the excavation of stockpiles and from material crushing and handling and vehicle traffic on haul roads.  There will be several space heaters on site.

    The draft permit includes a Fugitive Emissions Control Plan which identifies primary and secondary controls to mitigate potential dust issues at the facility. The draft permit also requires the company to:

    • track monthly and annual material processes;
    • performance testing requirements for material processing equipment; and
    • recordkeeping for visible emissions related to fugitive dust.

      Next steps

      After the public comment period closes, 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. A permit can only be issued if the facility is able to meet all applicable requirements. 

      For more information

      Water quality permit: Stephanie Handeland, 651-757-2405

      Air quality permit: Ben Wenkel, 651-757-2603