For more than 130 years, the Mesabi Iron Range has been the major source of iron ore for the nation’s steel industry, supplying the raw materials that helped build industrial America. In the 1940s copper was discovered near the eastern end of the Iron Range on the northern margin of a massive geologic formation known as the Duluth Complex. Since then, improvements in processing technology made mining the Duluth Complex possible. Today, we have the ability to economically recover the base metals of copper, nickel and cobalt and precious metals including platinum, palladium, gold and silver from the Duluth Complex.
We are working hard to become the first Minnesota mining company to commercially produce these metals, further solidifying the state’s position as a supplier of critical raw materials for the nation and ushering in a new era of economic prosperity on the East Range.
Copper-nickel in Minnesota – Brief Overview
1948 – Copper Discovery
Fred Childers discovers copper outcroppings in what is now Duluth Complex. Exploratory drilling beginning three years later reveals copper as well as nickel.
1953 – Construction of Erie Plant
Construction begins on the Erie Plant near Hoyt Lakes. The $300 million complex to process and ship taconite includes a mill, rail lines, power plant and harbor. Commissioned in 1957, the plant is closed in 2001 by its then owner LTV Steel Mining Company and later purchased by PolyMet.
1969 – Exploratory Drilling
United States Steel Corporation (U.S. Steel) discovers the NorthMet deposit.
1981 – PolyMet’s Beginning
Fleck Resources Ltd., later to be renamed PolyMet, is incorporated in Vancouver, Canada.
Fleck enters into a perpetually renewable mineral lease to the NorthMet deposit with U.S. Steel.
2005 – LTV Steel Site Purchase
PolyMet buys the core of the former LTV Steel Mining Company site from Cleveland Cliffs. LTV Steel Mining Company laid off 1,400 workers when it closed the site in 2001 and Cliffs subsequently purchased it.
PolyMet stock begins trading on the American Stock Exchange (now NYSE-American) under the symbol PLM. Until 1984, it had only traded on the Toronto exchange under the symbol POM. It continues to trade on the TSX as well.
2008 – Glencore invests in PolyMet
The global, diversified, integrated natural resources company invests in PolyMet. Its continued financial support helps fund the environmental review, permitting and other transactions. Glencore currently holds about one-third of PolyMet’s common shares.
2014 – EPA EIS Rating
The Environmental Protection Agency rates the supplemental draft EIS as EC-2 – the highest rating the agency has ever given to a mining project of this type.
The USFS issues a Final Record of Decision approving the land exchange and PolyMet files its first applications for permits.
2017 – Draft Permits
After a thorough review and analysis process that includes considerable public involvement, the state of Minnesota begins releasing draft permits for the major permits needed to build and operate the mine.
Land Exchange Completed The land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service and PolyMet closes and titles to nearly 7,000 acres of private and federal lands change hands.
State Permits Issued The State of Minnesota issues all of its major permits approving construction and operation of the project.
2019- Federal Permit Issued
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues its Record of Decision on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthMet Project and the wetlands (Section 404) permit, the only remaining federal permit for the project.