Prairie River Minerals demonstration project

Prairie River Minerals is constructing and operating a demonstration-scale scram mining and processing facility near Coleraine, Minnesota. The 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.

    Permits needed

    The Prairie River Minerals demonstration plant is located near Coleraine, Minnesota.

    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 issued a State Disposal System (SDS) water permit for the Prairie River Minerals demonstration project on October 28, 2020. The 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.

    Water permit documents

    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 MPCA issued an air permit on November 10, 2020. 

    The permit covers operations at the 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 permit includes a Fugitive Emissions Control Plan which identifies primary and secondary controls to mitigate potential dust issues at the facility. The 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.

    Air permit documents

      For more information

      Water quality: Stephanie Handeland, 651-757-2405

      Air quality: Ben Wenkel, 651-757-2603