As of Nov. 7, 2023, PolyMet is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Glencore.

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May 21, 2019

Project progress – Three things to know about the NorthMet project


After more than 10 years of diligent environmental and regulatory work, we have succeeded in securing the permits we need to begin work at the NorthMet project site. We’re proud of this achievement and look forward to the increased activity and economic benefits the next phase of the project will bring to the Iron Range.

Getting to this point has taken years of hard work and dedication, and we are approaching the construction phase of the project with the same level of commitment to doing things right.

As we move forward, here are three things to know about the project:

  • We are a first in Minnesota
    The NorthMet project is the state’s first copper, nickel and precious metals mining operation to be fully permitted and one of only a handful of large mines to be permitted in the U.S. in the last 20 years. As we shift our focus to preparations for construction and operations, we are sincerely grateful for the support our local communities have provided to help us reach this point.

  • We are proud to be operating along the Iron Range
    The Iron Range has a long history of mining excellence, and we are proud to be part of the next generation of Minnesota miners. The NorthMet project is located in the world-class Duluth Complex, the largest known untapped copper-nickel resource in the world. Specifically, our operations lie 175 river miles upstream of Lake Superior within the St. Louis River watershed and are therefore outside the Rainey River Watershed where the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is found.

    Located near the cities of Hoyt Lakes and Babbitt, our project is carefully designed to minimize impacts on the environment. For example, we are addressing legacy water quality issues from the former LTV Steel Mining Company operation at the site and reducing overall mercury and sulfate levels in the watershed. Additionally, we are upgrading the site with modern infrastructure that prevents seepage and water migration from the existing tailings basin. Throughout site preparation, construction and operations, we will be monitoring, collecting, controlling, recycling and eventually treating on-site water to meet water quality standards before it is discharged back into the environment. We are committed to meeting or exceeding all applicable federal and state water quality standards and regulations.

  • We are preparing the site for construction
    With permits now in hand, we’ve shifted our work focus to site preparation, which means there is increased activity on site. Because we will refurbish and modernize the former LTV Steel Mining Company plant, we have some cleaning up to do before we can get started. The plant has been idle since 2001, so much of what’s there, like dated machinery, computers and electronic equipment, must be scrapped and recycled. We have already salvaged more than 1 million pounds of copper for recycling. We’re also planning to sell several rod and ball mills, cone crushers and a gyratory crusher assembly to make room for new equipment. Additionally, we started asbestos abatement work, conducted additional drilling and installed monitoring equipment.

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