PolyMet NorthMet Project at a Glance
We are located in northeastern Minnesota near the community of Hoyt Lakes, within the established Mesabi Iron Range mining district. The project is located south of the Laurentian Divide in the St. Louis River basin, 175 river miles upstream from Lake Superior. The Laurentian Divide separates the St. Louis River basin from the Rainy River basin, where the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is located.
Ownership and control
We control 100 percent of the NorthMet ore body through perpetually renewable leases with private mineral owners. We also own the Erie Plant site and associated infrastructure, including power, road, rail and existing tailings basin.
The U.S. Forest Service has authorized a land exchange with PolyMet to consolidate our respective land ownerships. The Forest Service will acquire 6,690 acres of private land from PolyMet to become part of the Superior National Forest; we will acquire 6,650 acres of surface land over the mineral deposit we already control. For more details about the land exchange, download our land exchange booklet.
Our project features two significant assets: the deposit itself, and the former LTV Steel processing facilities and infrastructure, which we will repurpose. Together, they cover approximately 19,000 contiguous acres, or nearly 30 square miles of land.
We 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 in concentrate – essential metals for our modern lifestyles and national security. See more details on production in the Technical Report (PDF).
Our mine and processing facilities are designed to comply with all applicable state and federal standards to protect Minnesota’s water, air and other natural resources. These are some of the strictest standards in the country. We also will clean up legacy water issues left from former taconite mining and processing operations on the property. A comprehensive 10-year environmental review of the project completed by state and federal regulatory agencies demonstrates that the project is capable of meeting standards.
Our project will be mined by open pit methods to a depth of approximately 700 feet below surface. Read more details on the mining and processing method.
Permit time frame
We have applied for state and federal permits to operate the mine and processing facilities over a 20 year period, processing approximately 225 million tons of ore.
Ore from the mine will be transported approximately six miles west by rail to the existing Erie Plant facilities, which we own and will modernize. We will use existing crushing facilities combined with new milling and flotation circuits to produce copper and nickel concentrates that will be shipped via the existing railhead.
Eventually, we may install an autoclave to upgrade the nickel concentrate. Read more details on the mining and processing method.
NorthMet ore body
The NorthMet deposit, located in the Partridge River Intrusion of the Duluth Complex, is a large, near-surface, disseminated deposit containing copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum, palladium, gold and silver. It holds 275 million tons of Proven and Probable Reserves grading 0.28 percent copper and 0.08 percent nickel. The NorthMet deposit, however, contains a total of 694 million tons of Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources grading 0.27 percent copper and 0.08 percent nickel. [See “Cautionary note to U.S. investors” regarding disclosure on Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources here. Please refer to the Technical Report (PDF) for assumptions and explanations.] Read more details on the deposit’s geology and mineralogy.
Our project will employ 360 workers directly, create more than 600 indirect jobs, and generate an estimated $515 million annually for St. Louis County according to an independent study (PDF) by the University of Minnesota Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics. Approximately $300 million already has been invested in the project. We also must provide bankruptcy-proof financial assurance, the provisions of which are in the Permit to Mine application.
When draft permits are issued, we plan to issue an updated Definitive Feasibility Study including updated capital and operating costs and project economics. Read more details in the latest PolyMet financial report.
The project will require about 18-24 months for construction and ramp up to full production once permits are in hand. It will require an estimated two million construction hours – about the same number of hours required to build Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball team.
We enjoy tremendous local support for the project, receiving resolutions of support from more than 30 local city, county and other government and business institutions. We also have the support of Jobs for Minnesotans, a partnership of statewide business and labor groups formed to advance copper-nickel mining in Minnesota. We are sincerely grateful for the encouragement and support we receive from our local communities. See who has officially endorsed the project.
Download our project brief for a broad overview of PolyMet’s NorthMet Project.