From the MDNR - DNR seeks comments on environmental review for Northshore Mining Co. mine expansion
(Released September 15, 2014)
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is accepting public comments during a 30-day public review period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 on an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for Northshore Mining Co.’s mine expansion near Babbitt, in northeastern Minnesota.
The company proposes to extend the boundary of its open pit mine on the southeast side to access taconite ore. The review document examines environmental impacts and mitigation efforts.
In this 108-acre expansion area, the taconite ore is overlain by Virginia Formation rock — sulfur-bearing rock that will be mined and stockpiled to access the ore. Northshore will permanently stockpile Virginia Formation rock from the expansion onsite following a plan that minimizes contact of groundwater and runoff with stockpiled rock. Go HERE for more information from the MDNR.
Save Our Sky Blue Waters with Save Lake Superior Association and the Center For Biological Diversity made substantial comments and petitioned the MDNR for a EAW on the Northshore Mine pit expansion.
DNR to review proposed taconite mine expansion in northeast Minn.
Minnesota Public Radio · Environment Dan Kraker · DULUTH, Minn. · Oct 16, 2013
State officials will review a proposed taconite mine expansion in northeast Minnesota for reasons typically associated with copper nickel mines.
Northshore Mining wants to expand its Peter Mitchell Mine south of Babbitt, Minn. Environmental groups, arguing the expansion could cause acid mine drainage, petitioned the Department of Natural Resources for an environmental assessment.
"It's the same problem that we're facing with the copper nickel mines, and the same potential for water quality impacts," said Jane Reyer with Duluth-based Save our Sky Blue Waters. "I just think we need to look at it regardless of what type of mine it's coming from."
After the petition was filed, Northshore Mining asked the DNR for an environmental review. The company has a conservative plan to expand the mine, said Sandy Karnowsky, spokeswoman for Northshore Mining owner Cliffs Natural Resources.
The Peter Mitchell Mine is located about one mile from the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine site.
* This comment period has closed
Comment on Northshore Mining’s proposed pit expansion that will unearth sulfide mineralization at their taconite mine!
The Minnesota DNR is taking public comments on the proposed expansion of the Northshore Mine. This amendment to Northshore Mining’s Permit to Mine would, for the first time, allow the company to blast and move rock with a sulfide level above 0.2%. Humidity cell testing done by the company shows that over time, the exposure of rock with this much sulfide results in Acid Mine Drainage, which is low in pH (i.e., acidic) and high in metals. The public comment period ends Monday, August 19.
Northshore Mining Pit Expansion Diagram
Click Here for Larger Image
Comment on Northshore Mining’s pit expansion that will unearth sulfide bearing rock!
Public comment period ends Monday, August 19. The only public notice of the proposed amendment was in the Babbitt and Virginia newspapers; it is not available on the DNR or Northshore Mining websites. However, pursuant to request, the DNR has made documents available on an ftp site: ftp://ftp.dnr.state.mn.us/pub/outgoing/Nshr%20permit%20amend_2013/
Comments should go to:
Attn: Julie Jordan
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Division of Lands and Minerals
1525 East Third Street
Hibbing, MN 55746
Points you might want to make in your comments:
• Ask that the MDNR do an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the proposed Amendment to Permit to Mine for the Northshore Mining Company, adding 108.33 acres to its Ultimate Pit Limit and disturbing sulfide-bearing rock.
• Northshore Mining plans to move 30 million tons of Virginia Formation rock. It is unclear how much of this is higher than 0.2% sulfide, but the diagrams indicate that it is more than half. For perspective, PolyMet plans to move 50 million tons of rock with this level of sulfides over the life of its mine. In other words, the Northshore Mining proposal is not insignificant. Yet there has been virtually no public information or process around it, and no environmental review documents.
• The timeframes for Acid Mine Drainage stretch over hundreds or thousands of years; the company does not appear to have done any analysis as to what the potential is for impacts to water over that range of time.
• The supporting materials assume that all drainage will be collected in the pit dewatering sump; there appears to be no analysis of the potential for drainage into the ground and groundwater below the stockpile.
• It appears that the pit wall will contain exposed areas of high-sulfide rock. How does the company plan to manage AMD from the pit wall?
• Stockpile covers have not proven sufficient to stop AMD at other mines. The timeframes we are talking about are hundreds or thousands of years long. The length of time that these covers will last is unknown. Furthermore, there is bound to be at least some leakage through the cover.
• What is the predicted water quality of the pit lake in 1,000 years?
• Although we appreciate the effort to provide financial assurance (proposed at about $26 million), there is a good possibility that active wastewater treatment will someday be needed for the outflow from this pit. Financial assurance should be enough to provide for that contingency.
Northshore Mining Company
Ultimate Pit Limit – Permit to Mine – December 2010
(Re-submitted April 12, 2013)
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Date: April 23, 2013 Made by: Jason Obermeyer, P.E.
Project No.: 083-81505 Checked by: Craig Schuettpelz, P.E.
Subject: Financial Assurance Cost Estimate Reviewed by: Brent Bronson, P.E.
Project Short Title: Cliffs Natural Resources
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Northshore Mining Pit Expansion LEGAL ADVERTISEMENT
Pursuant to the Taconite and Iron Ore Mineland Reclamation Rules (Chapter 6130),notice is hereby given that Northshore Mining Company, P.O. Box 207, Babbitt, MN has applied for an Amendment to the Permit to Mine in St. Louis County, near the City of Babbitt as shown on the map below. The proposed mine progression areas occupy 108.33 acres in Sections 19, 20 and 30 in Township 60 North, Range 12 West.
The proposed mine progression will progress the Main Pit boundary to the south. Much of the Iron Ore in this progression area is overlain by Virginia Formation rock, which will be stockpiled in-pit and covered with an engineered stockpile cover. Progression of the amendment area is scheduled to start in 2013 and meet Northshore’s mining requirements through 2016 for the Main Pit.
The surface and mineral ownerships of the mining areas are:
Surface: Northshore Mining Company
Mineral: Mesabi Trust
The complete application is on file at the Northshore Mining Company facility office in Babbitt or at the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Lands and Minerals offices in Hibbing and St. Paul.
Any person owning property which will be affected by the proposed operations or any federal, state, or local government agencies having responsibilities affected by the proposed operations may file written objections to this proposed amendment. Written objections must be sent to the Commissioner of Natural Resources, c/o Division of Lands and Minerals, 1525 Third Avenue East, Hibbing, MN 55746 before July _____, 2013.
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Northshore Mining Pit Expansion letter regarding use of Mile Post 7 Tailings Basin to accommodate the additional tailings produced from the ore uncovered from the movement of the Virginia Formation Type rock.
June 13, 2013
Ms. Julie Jordan
Mineland Reclamation Specialist, Principal
DNR-Lands and Minerals
1525 Third Ave. E.
Hibbing, MN 55746
Dear Ms Jordan,
After reviewing the basin five year operating plan and historical data, the Mile Post 7 tailings basis can accommodate the additional tailings produced from the ore uncovered from the movement of the Virginia Formation Type II.
The ultimate elevation of the basin is 1315’. 3’ of aggregate cover at the beaches needs to occur at closure so fine tailings can be placed to 1312’. The projected level at year end is 1215’, currently at 1213.6’. According to the production schedule within the 2013 reserve base analysis using an annual rate of 5.8 MT product, the current Permit to Mine tonnage of 680MT plus the additional 70MT (750MT total) will be exhausted in the year 2057 or 44 years.
The allowable rate of rise at the basin is 2.2’/yr. Therefore the Mile Post 7 basin has sufficient capacity to hold the tailings form the additional 70 MT of ore from the Permit to Mine amendment request.
If you have any further question or comment, please feel free to contact me.
Daniel R. Wolf, P.E.
Senior Section Manager – Mine Engineering
Northshore Mining Company
PO Box 207
Babbitt, MN 55706
Phone: 218 827-2026 Cell: 218 290-1700
Click Here for Larger Image of Mile Post 7 located near Lake Superior
For more information e-mail: