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PolyMet Wins Permit for Minnesota Copper-Nickel Mine

Wed November 14, 2018 - Midwest Edition #23
PolyMet


PolyMet’s permit to mine is the first nonferrous mining permit to be issued in the state of Minnesota. 
(polymet.mn.gov photo)
PolyMet’s permit to mine is the first nonferrous mining permit to be issued in the state of Minnesota. (polymet.mn.gov photo)

PolyMet Mining Inc. reported Nov. 1 it has received a permit to mine from the state of Minnesota, a crucial permit for construction and operation of the NorthMet Project in northeastern Minnesota.

PolyMet's permit to mine is the first nonferrous mining permit to be issued in the state of Minnesota.

The Department of Natural Resources also issued all other permits for which the company has applied including dam safety, water appropriations, takings, and public waters work permits, along with Wetlands Conservation Act approval.

These permits were issued after the company demonstrated that its designs meet strict state environmental standards and at the conclusion of an extensive public input process.

"We look forward to building and operating a modern mine and developing the minerals that sustain and enhance our modern world," said Jon Cherry, president and CEO. "Responsibly developing these strategic minerals in compliance with these permits while protecting Minnesota's natural resources is our top priority as we move forward."

PolyMet aims to be the first to commercially produce copper and nickel, in addition to platinum, palladium, gold and cobalt, from the world-class Duluth Complex in the Iron Range's historic mining district.

The permit to mine authorizes the company to build and operate open-pit mining operations that are expected to yield approximately 1.2 billion lbs. of copper, 170 million lbs. of nickel, 6.2 million lbs. of cobalt and 1.6 million troy oz. of precious metals over a 20-year mine life.

The 225 million tons of ore permitted for extraction represents roughly one-third of the NorthMet measured and indicated resource of 649 million tons as described in the company's 2018 National Instrument 43-101 Technical Report, which is filed under the company's SEDAR and EDGAR profiles.

Cherry said the permit to mine provides a level of certainty for which the community and investors have been waiting.

"It is a victory for Iron Range families who have steadfastly supported us and who depend on and will benefit from the hundreds of jobs that construction and operations will create and support for years to come," he said. "This certainty will also allow the company to move forward with financing and final engineering designs."

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Pollution Control agency said it will make final air and water permit decisions before the end of the year.

The federal Record of Decision and wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are expected to follow thereafter.

In relation to the permits issued Nov. 1, site preparation and rehabilitation of the former LTV Steel Mining Company processing facilities, which the company acquired in 2005-06, will occur through the winter and early spring as the company prepares to modernize those facilities to process ore for the NorthMet project.

The bulk of work will start with the 2019 construction season and is expected to last approximately 24 to 30 months and require about 2 million construction hours.

"We owe tremendous gratitude to our shareholders, Iron Range supporters, labor groups and those throughout the state who have stood by this project and this process. We are grateful for the trust they and our investors have put in us and the state to do this right," Cherry said. "We also appreciate and respect the careful and thorough role the state has played throughout the public permitting process."

An economic impact study by the University of Minnesota-Duluth Labovitz School of Business and Economics estimated the project will yield more than $500 million annually in economic benefits for St. Louis County and generate 660 indirect jobs in addition to the 360 full-time workers the company is expected to employ.

Permit details and status can be found on the state's website at www.polymet.mn.gov.