State and federal agencies have published the Final Environmental Impact Statement and the state has completed its environmental review process. The U.S. Forest Service authorized the land exchange in its Final Record of Decision on the land exchange and FEIS, while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepares its Final Record of Decision on the FEIS. The state has released draft permits for which we are waiting final decisions, and we are preparing project implementation and financing plans. These accomplishments place us on track to be the first to commercially mine copper, nickel and precious metals in Minnesota.
Here’s a brief summary of our recent progress:
Final Environmental Impact Statement. The state of Minnesota, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange November 6, 2015. View the Final EIS.
State Adequacy Decision. The State of Minnesota validated the Final Environmental Impact Statement when it issued its Adequacy Decision on March 3, 2016, stating that the NorthMet Project, as designed, is capable of meeting all applicable state and federal environmental standards. The decision marked the completion of the environmental review process for the state and paved the way for the company to seek construction and operating permits. Read the state’s decision.
More than 20 permits are required to build and operate the mine including the federal Section 404 Individual Permit for Impacted Wetlands, the state Permit to Mine, which contains provisions for financial assurance, and various other state permits such as tailings dam safety, water quality, stormwater, air quality, and a Wetland Replacement Plan. The state has released draft permits for all major water- and air-related permits, including the Permit to Mine. The permitting process is managed by the regulatory agencies, and therefore, timelines for final permit decisions are controlled by them. View a history of the environmental review and permitting for the NorthMet Project here. Track the progress of permits here.
The company is focused on obtaining funding necessary for construction. We expect to have construction debt financing agreements in place prior to obtaining permits so the funds are available when key permits are issued. The company is in discussion with commercial banks and other financial institutions regarding construction finance.