Minnesota DNR Awarded Mercury Grant

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has been awarded a $1.6 million federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to study atmospheric mercury emissions from the state’s taconite processing plants.

The Minnesota DNR announced the news HERE.

The competitive grant comes with an additional $400,000 in research funding provided by the taconite industry and the DNR’s Environmental Cooperative Research Program. The agency says the research will be important for the industry which is striving to reach its eventual goal of a 75 percent reduction in atmospheric mercury emissions — the reduction needed for state and international mercury emission reduction goals to be met.

Most Minnesota taconite processing plants — which border the Quetico-Superior region — were designed and built during the 1960s, before mercury emissions were considered an environmental concern, the DNR noted. The taconite industry accounts for approximately 20 percent of the total atmospheric mercury emitted in Minnesota and about 50 percent of the mercury emitted from companies in the Lake Superior Basin.

The DNR submitted the grant proposal to the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Program, with assistance from the Minnesota Taconite Mercury Control Advisory Committee — a consortium of engineers and researchers from state agencies, universities, and the state’s six taconite processing facilities.

The advisory committee will direct, coordinate, and oversee the research. The group plans to test five technologies being used by other industries to determine technologies that are most adaptable to the iron mining industry, the DNR said.

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