Notice of Intent to Issue 401 Water Quality Certification to Northshore Mining
Northshore Mining is proposing to relocate the West Ridge railroad at the Milepost 7 Tailings Basin, including construction of a new embankment that will ultimately become part of the dam defining the final footprint of the tailings basin. The railroad will relocate approximately 4,000 feet to the northwest, to accommodate the final expansion of the mine’s tailings basin. The area proposed for the tailings basin expansion and related infrastructure is approximately 1,200 acres.
This project, located west of Sliver Bay, proposes to impact approximately 5,200 feet of Big Thirtynine Creek, 3,400 feet of Little Thirtynine Creek and 310 acres of wetlands. Mitigation for wetland impacts is proposed through the purchase of wetland bank credits. Mitigation for stream impacts is proposed to include six separate stream restoration projects, to be completed by the applicant.
The MPCA requests public comments on the draft 401 water quality certification October 19 – November 11, 2020. After the public comment closes, the MPCA will review any comments and, if necessary, make changes to the draft certification. The MPCA will then review the administrative record and decide whether to issue the certification. The draft certification and supporting documents can be found on the MPCA website starting October 19.
In June 2018, Northshore submitted a joint application for a Section 404 permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The MPCA also received the first request for a Section 401 Water Quality Certification in 2018. The MPCA issued a Denial without Prejudice for the project in August 2019 because information submitted was not sufficient to reasonably assure that all water quality standards would be met by the project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ public notice period ended on September 26, 2020.