A contentious copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota has taken another step forward with state regulators releasing a crucial draft permit for public comment.

PolyMet Executive Vice President Brad Moore calls Friday's release "a major milestone for the project" after more than 10 years of environmental review and permitting.

The draft "permit to mine" includes a requirement that PolyMet provide a large financial assurances package to protect taxpayers if the company goes bankrupt from having to cover the costs of closing and cleaning up the mine, including long-term wastewater treatment.

That's been a major issue in the long debate, in which PolyMet and its supporters have touted the jobs it would create while environmentalists have warned of the potential for catastrophe.