Flambeau Mine hardly a success story

Industry and agency sources quoted in a story from Minnesota Public Radio today basically have one defense of Wisconsin’s Flambeau mine: “If the government says that mining pollution is okay, you, the citizen, should too.”

The Flambeau mine is frequently pointed to by the Minnesota sulfide mining industry as an example where this form of mining was done “right. ” But, it turns out, the mine is actually polluting surrounding waters at rates far above water quality standards, and above what the company and the Wisconsin DNR predicted.

“[Is] iron and manganese high in that well? Yes, it is. Is it higher than they predicted? Yes it is,” [Mining program coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Phillip] Fauble said. “However, we’ve evaluated that, and our opinion is that even at these higher levels, they still meet the conditions of the permit.”

Because the agency gave the mining company a permit that only specified what kind of impact it could have on the nearby Flambeau River, not on groundwater and streams closer to the mine site, the DNR is giving the company a pass.

As is also noted in the article, the Flambeau mine was significantly smaller than PolyMet’s proposal, and the ore was processed elsewhere, so the dangerous waste from that part of the operation was never a factor, whereas PolyMet will be doing the processing for its mine on-site.

Read the whole story…