Posted at: 10/10/2012 4:36 PM
Updated at: 10/10/2012 10:32 PM
By: Renee Passal
PolyMet Mining announced some big environmental news on Wednesday.
They have had success with a technology that will lower sulfate levels in water to meet a strict state standard.
Sulfate levels have become a statewide concern for many industries, including mining.
For months now, PolyMet has watched their pilot plant in Virginia, and the technology at work. And the work is removing sulfates from water.
It's happening through a filtration system.
"The technology is reverse osmosis. It's proven world wide. And it's really significant for us, because it will show critics that we can treat the water," explained VP of Public Affairs LaTisha Gietzen.
Over one million gallons of water has already gone through the pilot plant successfully. This is a result of a partnership with national and local experts, like GE and Barr Engineering.
PolyMet plans on using the reverse osmosis treatment at their tailings basin in Hoyt Lakes. You may remember that they plan on mining base and precious metals near Babbitt and then processing them at the old LTV plant.
Sulfates will be in the wastewater, so PolyMet wanted to have a plan in place to meet environmental regulations. Sulfates have made the news lately, because of a state standard in wild rice waters. Researchers are studying the effects of sulfates on the wild rice, to determine if the standard needs to be changed.
As for PolyMet, permitting work has been on-going for over seven years now. And the expected timeline now for the draft environmental impact statement is next spring.
The pilot plant technology is NOT required by the EIS, but is something PolyMet thought was important.
If all permitting goes as scheduled, construction on the project could begin in 2014.