PolyMet Mining Corp. [POM-TSX, PLM-NYSE American] and Teck Resources Ltd. (TECK.B-TSX, TECK.A-TSX, TECK-NYSE) have agreed to become equal partners in NewRange Copper Nickel LLC, an entity set up to manage two undeveloped clean energy projects in Minnesota.
They include PolyMet’s NorthMet and Teck’s Mesaba projects, which together account for approximately one half of the known resources of copper, nickel, cobalt and PGMs in Minnesota’s Duluth Complex.
Glencore Plc, the Swiss metals trading giant, which holds a 71% stake in PolyMet, has pledged to fund PolyMet’s portion of the initial work program and certain other costs and expenses up to US$105 million.
“This agreement will help to unlock a new domestic supply of critical metals for the low-carbon transition through responsible mining,’’ said Teck President and CEO Don Lindsay.
According to a 2019 estimate, NorthMet contains measured and indicated resource of 795 million tons of 0.234% copper, 0.071% nickel, 69.0 g/t cobalt, 0.062 g/t platinum, 0.214 g/t palladium, 0.031 g/t gold, and 0.87 g/t silver. NorthMet is also estimated to contain 290.4 million tons of proven and probable reserves.
In on overview of the NorhMet project, PolyMet said ll major state and federal permits have been received for what is expected to be an open pit mining operation, including permit to mine, air and water permits and federal wetlands. The project covers 19,000 contiguous acres, including mine and processing sites, transportation corridor, existing tailings basin and buffer.
Mesaba is estimated to contain a measured and indicated resource of 1,740 million tonnes of 0.43% copper, 0.10% nickel, 73 g//t cobalt, 0.035 g/t platinum, 0.097 g/t palladium, 0.03 g/t gold and 1.1 g/t silver according to a estimated that was published this year.
NorthMet is expected to produce copper and nickel-copper concentrates, which Glencore has substantial experience in marketing.
PolyMet shares advanced on the news, rising 5.6% or 20 cents to $3.74. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $6.15 and $3.05.
Teck is a diversified miner with coal, copper, zinc, and oil sands operations in Canada, the U.S., Chile and Peru.
It ranks as the world’s second-largest seaborne exporter of steelmaking coal, with six operations in Western Canada and significant steelmaking coal reserves. They include Elkview, Fording River, Greenhills and Line Creek in southeastern British Columbia.
“This extraordinary venture links the expertise, experience and financial resources of PolyMet with Teck and Glencore to develop the NorthMet mine when the remaining permit proceedings are complete, and study the development options for Mesaba,’’ said PolyMet Chairman, President and CEO Jon Cherry.
“With both projects representing approximately half of the known resources in Minnesota’s Duluth Complex under NewRange Copper Nickel, Minnesota emerges as a global leader and major force in developing strategic minerals to feed the North American supply chain for clean energy technologies, electric mobility and modern societal use,’’ Cherry said.
“The total assets of NorthMet and Mesaba deposits make this one of the largest clean-energy mineral resources in the U.S. and globally,” he said.