WDIO: Land Exchange for PolyMet Gets Go Ahead
Good news for PolyMet on Monday. The U.S. Forest Service said they have signed the Final Record of Decision on the land exchange, which authorizes the exchange.
The exchange calls for the Forest Service to convey 6,650 acres of federal land to PolyMet, in exchange for acquisition of 6,690 acres of non-federal land.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, that means the surface property will be transferred to PolyMet, which already controls the mineral rights. In essence, this enables the development of the proposed copper-nickel mine, pending other Federal and state required approvals.
PolyMet's statement said that they will transfer four parcels of land to the Forest Service, which include more access to public lakes and land.
Jon Cherry, the CEO and President of PolyMet, said, "This is an incredibly important milestone for PolyMet as we consolidate the surface land and mineral ownership in and around the NorthMet ore body and Erie Plant site."
The two parties will now begin the realty transfer process.
Congressman Rick Nolan said in a statement, "This is wonderful news for our Iron Range," Nolan said. "We are another step closer to making the PolyMet initiative a reality. I will continue to work with the appropriate agencies to ensure that the proposed project moves forward in an efficient manner."
The Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness were critical of the announcement. In a statement, the executive director, Paul Danicic, said, "The transfer of thousands of acres of Superior National Forest land to PolyMet is a bad deal for taxpayers, premature, and not in the public interest. No exchange of land can undo the damage that PolyMet would do to this area. The land that PolyMet seeks to mine contains thousands of acres of high-value wetlands that are irreplaceable."