Gov. Mark Dayton will tour mines in South Dakota and Michigan later this month as part of his "review and consideration" prior to his administration's decision on whether to issue permits for the controversial PolyMet mine in northeast Minnesota, a spokesman announced Wednesday.
Environmentalists fear the proposed copper-nickel mining could damage fragile watersheds, while organized labor and business groups say the new mines would deliver jobs and economic activity.
Dayton will visit a mine recommended by project supporters and one recommended by project opponents.
On the tour, first reported by the Associated Press, Dayton will visit Gilt Edge Mine in South Dakota Oct. 27 and Eagle Mine in Michigan Oct. 30.
A final environmental impact statement is expected next month and a permitting decision early next year. Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr, who will accompany Dayton on the trip, has final permitting power, though other permits are also required.
The PolyMet decision has fractured the DFL, with environmentalists facing off against organized labor. The permitting decision expected to be one of the most difficult of Dayton's second term.