Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental Studies


Jean Lavigne, Environmental Studies


Future Mining in Minnesota: Effects on Communities and Environment Abstract This study explores and describes the potential risks of the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota. The goals of the research were: 1) identify vulnerable communities and environmental features, 2) determine the mine’s potential damage, and 3) create maps to illustrate the vicinity of the mine to vulnerable areas. The interest of this project is to determine whether the mine’s economic benefit outweighs the environmental risks. This research is an observational study that involves analysis of maps compiled with environmental, population, and vulnerability data as well as non-spatial data. The majority of data were found at MN Geospatial Commons. The major findings of this research are that the proposed mine has great potential to pollute the water table and nearby streams, rivers, and lakes. The mine’s risks may not have been fully reviewed since the potential pollution will have great impact on communities in St. Louis County, Minnesota, recreation in the BWCA, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. It can be assumed that the risks outweigh the benefits, since the mine has potential to pollute the mine for many years after it ceases operation. It can be interpreted that local communities and environmental features will take a toll if this mine is implemented.