Minnesota Issues Last of Major Permits for PolyMet Copper-Nickel Mine
Published: January 18, 2019 |
PolyMet Mining has received the final remaining state approvals to construct and operate the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals project in northeastern Minnesota.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued the water quality (NPDES/SDS) and air quality permits and the Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certification for the NorthMet mine. This follows the Department of Natural Resources’ issuance in early November of the Permit to Mine, dam safety, water appropriations, takings, and public waters work permits, along with the Wetlands Conservation Act approval. In total, the MPCA and DNR have issued 17 permits and other approvals.
“This represents the culmination of many years of hard work to allow the building of Minnesota’s first copper-nickel mine. We look forward to the opportunity to responsibly develop the NorthMet mine and produce those metals that are critical for our society while creating value for our shareholders and the communities in which we operate,” said Jon Cherry, president and CEO.
As with the DNR permits, the MPCA permits were issued after the company demonstrated that its project designs meet strict state environmental standards and at the conclusion of an extensive public input process.
PolyMet will be the first to commercially produce copper and nickel, in addition to platinum, palladium, gold and cobalt, from the world-class Duluth Complex in the Iron Range’s historic mining district.
The permits authorize the company to build and operate open pit mining operations that are expected to yield approximately 1.2 billion pounds of copper, 170 million pounds of nickel, 6.2 million pounds of cobalt and 1.6 million troy ounces of precious metals over a 20-year mine life. The 225 million tons of ore permitted for extraction represent roughly one third of the NorthMet 649-million-ton measured and indicated resource as described in the company’s 2018 National Instrument 43-101 technical report, which is filed under the company’s SEDAR and EDGAR profiles.
“The permits pave the way for a final decision from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on its wetlands (Section 404) permit, the only remaining federal permit. That decision is expected soon,” Cherry said. “The permits also will provide certainty for the financing process over the next few months as we prepare for the 2019 construction season,” added Cherry.
“State and federal regulatory agencies have been thorough, careful and deliberate in following the law throughout the permitting process. Our shareholders and supporters have been steadfast throughout this process, and we are most grateful to them. We are extremely pleased with this outcome,” said Cherry.
PolyMet Mining Corp. is a publicly traded mine development company that owns 100 percent of Poly Met Mining, Inc., a Minnesota corporation that controls 100 percent of the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals ore body through a long-term lease, and owns 100 percent of the Erie Plant, a large processing facility located approximately seven rail miles from the ore body in the established mining district of the Mesabi Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. Poly Met Mining, Inc. has completed its definitive feasibility study. The NorthMet final environmental impact statement was published in November 2015, preparing the way for decisions on permit applications. NorthMet is expected to require approximately two million hours of construction labor, create approximately 360 long-term jobs directly, and generate a level of activity that will have a significant multiplier effect in the local economy.
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