The process of developing a new mine is an enormous undertaking that takes expertise, focus and patience. We have accomplished much in making the NorthMet Project a reality. Our achievements include:
- Acquiring the Erie Plant and associated infrastructure, including a 100,000 ton-per-day crushing facility, tailings basin, railroad and railroad access rights connecting the plant with the mine site, 120 rail cars, locomotive fueling and maintenance facilities, water rights, pipelines, administrative offices, and approximately 6,000 acres of land to the east and west of and contiguous to the existing tailings basin.
- Completing a Definitive Feasibility Study in 2006 (updated in 2008) that confirmed the technical and economic viability of the NorthMet Project and established proven and probable reserves, positioning the NorthMet Project as the most advanced of the four major projects in development in the Duluth Complex. Since the study, continuing exploration of the NorthMet ore body has led to an increase in both reserves and resources.
- Seeing through to completion the Environmental Impact Statement by state and federal regulatory agencies in accordance with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The Environmental Protection Agency gave the draft EIS the highest rating for a project of our type. The Final EIS concludes that the project as designed is capable of meeting all applicable environmental standards.
- Achieving a land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service to give the company surface rights to land overlying the NorthMet ore body in exchange for private lands with high conservation value and public accessibility. The Forest Service issued its Final Record of Decision (ROD) on the FEIS and land exchange on January 9, 2017, concluding that the land exchange was in the best public interest and meets the desired conditions in the Superior National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan.
- Incorporating numerous new process and project improvements in the design including extensive environmental controls designed to reduce and mitigate the environmental impact of the NorthMet Project. This also includes updating existing facilities and pilot testing and installing new equipment such as membrane technology for water treatment. The company is in the process of updating and detailing its capital and operating estimates to reflect the advanced stage of engineering and design.
- Raising more than $207 million in equity since September 2006, $80 million of secured initial principal debt of which $25 million is exchangeable into shares at $1.27 per share upon receipt of permits necessary to build and operate the project. We also borrowed and repaid the $4 million principal plus accrued interest from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), an economic development program of the State of Minnesota, to acquire land to be exchanged in the USFS land exchange.