NorthMet copper/nickel/precious metals project, US – update

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13th May 2022

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
NorthMet copper/nickel/precious metals project.

Near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, in the US.

Project Owner/s
PolyMet Mining Inc, a subsidiary of PolyMet Mining Corp.

Project Description
NorthMet will be developed in two distinct phases.

Phase 1 involves the proposed development of 225-million tons – nearly one-third of NorthMet’s known resource – into an operating mine processing 32 000 t/d over a 20-year mine life. It also includes rehabilitating the former LTV Steel Mining Company processing plant.

Under Phase 1, which includes revenues based only on concentrate sales, payable metals in the concentrate are estimated at 1.1-billion pounds of copper, 133-million pounds of nickel, a combined 1.1-million ounces of platinum, palladium and gold, one-million ounces of silver and 5.6-million pounds of cobalt.

Phase 2 involves the proposed construction and operation of a hydrometallurgical plant to treat nickel sulphide concentrates into upgraded nickel/cobalt hydroxide, and recover additional copper and platinum-group metals.

Under Phase 2, payable metals in enriched cop­per concentrates and products from the hydro­­metallurgical plant are estimated at 1.2-billion pounds of copper; 174-million pounds of nickel; 1.6-million combined ounces of platinum, palladium and gold; one-million ounces of silver; and 6.2-million pounds of cobalt. Palladium is the predominant precious metals group product, totalling 1.2-million ounces.

NorthMet has proven and probable reserves of 290-million tons and a measured and indicated resource of 795-million tons.

Potential Job Creation
The project is expected to create more than 1 000 direct and spinoff jobs, and about two million-hours of construction labour.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has a net present value, at a 7% discount rate, of $173-million for Phase 1 and $271-million including Phase 2.

The project has an internal rate of return of 9.6% for Phase 1 and 10.3% including Phase 2.

Capital Expenditure
Capital costs for Phase 1 are estimated at $945-million and include the refurbishment of the existing primary crushing circuit and replacing the existing rod and ball mill circuits with a new, modern semiautogenous grinding mill, ball mill and flotation circuit. It also includes rail upgrades, mining equipment and a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant.

Phase 2 will increase the project’s capital costs by about $259-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Not stated.

Latest Developments
PolyMet Mining is facing a potential setback after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended that the Army Corps of Engineers not reissue the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit for its proposed NorthMet copper/nickel project.

The recommendation was made during hearings held by the Corps earlier this year, after the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior’s Chippewa objected to the issuance of the permit, arguing that the proposed mine will affect the quality of its waters.

“As the NorthMet project is currently designed, there are no conditions that the EPA can provide to the Corps that would ensure that the discharges from the CWA Section 404 permitted activities would comply with the Fond du Lac Band’s water quality requirements for its waters,” the EPA has said.

The organisation’s assessment was based on an independent scientific review of the record, including PolyMet’s CWA Section 404 permit application and Minnesota’s water-quality certification, as proposed at the time of its evaluation.

The hearing and the public comment period ended on May 6. The Corps will now consider information presented, after which it will decide whether the CWA Section 404 permit will be re-issued.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
None stated.

Contact Details for Project Information
Polymet Mining investor relations, Tony Gikas, tel +1 651389 4110 or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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