PolyMet Mining Corp. [POM-TSX; PLM-NYSE MKT] announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Poly Met Mining Inc. submitted a Permit to Mine application to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metal project. The Permit to Mine application has three main areas of focus: mine waste management; wetlands protection and replacement; and financial assurance. The project is located near the community of Hoyt Lakes, within an existing mining district.
The NorthMet Project is described by the company as “part of northeastern Minnesota’s Duluth Complex, one of the world’s largest known, undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel and other precious metals.” PolyMet states that the NorthMet Project would be the first in Minnesota to commercially extract metals from the Duluth Complex.
The company also owns and plans to refurbish and reuse the Erie Plant, (idle for 15 years) and associated infrastructure on the former LTV Steel Mining Company site. The plant site is well located, about six miles west of the NorthMet ore body.
According to PolyMet, the NorthMet Project will annually produce 72 million pounds of copper, 15.4 million pounds of nickel, 720,000 pounds of cobalt and 106,000 troy ounces of precious metals.The company expects to mine ~32,000 tons of ore per day and, over the 20-year permitted mine life, expects to remove 225 million tons of ore and 308 million tons of waste rock – a total of 533 million tons of material.
“This application is the product of more than a decade of independent and peer-reviewed scientific studies and analysis. It reflects the culmination of thousands of hours of meticulous work by the PolyMet team and our consultants and advisors,” said Jon Cherry, president and CEO. “It demonstrates in detail the numerous steps we would take to ensure the mine operates in an environmentally responsible and safe manner, meets the high standards and expectations we and others have set for the project, and that there will be funds set aside to ensure that taxpayer dollars will not be needed for reclamation.”
The NorthMet Project, the company estimates “will require ~two million hours of construction labor creating ~360 long-term jobs. PolyMet Mining reports that “An independent economic impact analysis has estimated an annual impact of $515 million in St. Louis County. Before the formal permit application process started in April 2016, the NorthMet Project underwent more than a decade of environmental review, culminating in the state’s EIS adequacy decision in March 2016.”
The company states that the Permit to Mine application is the last of the major permit applications following submission of water-related and air quality permit applications to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) and DNR during the summer.