Canadian diversified miner Teck Resources and Glencore-backed PolyMet Mining on Thursday announced a joint venture (JV) that would place their respective Minnesota projects, which contain high-in-demand copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum-group metals, under single management.
The 50:50 JV would own the NorthMet project and the Mesaba resource. It would be named NewRange Copper Nickel, paying homage to the location of the resource and the rich mining heritage of the region.
PolyMet will remain a publically traded company, dually listed on the TSX and NYSE American. Glencore will retain its majority equity interest in PolyMet and provide financial support for its share of the funding commitment to the JV.
“This extraordinary venture links the expertise, experience and financial resources of PolyMet, Teck and Glencore to develop the NorthMet mine when the remaining permit proceedings are complete, and study the mine development options for Mesaba,” said PolyMet chairperson, president and CEO Jon Cherry.
He added that Minnesota could emerge as a global leader and major force in developing strategic minerals to feed the North American supply chain for clean energy technologies, electric mobility and modern societal use.
“The total assets of the NorthMet and Mesaba deposits make this one of the largest clean-energy mineral resources in the US and globally.”
These resources consist of measured and indicated resources of 795-million tons and 1.74-billion tons for NorthMet and Mesaba, respectively, and further inferred resources of 458-million tons and 1.61-billion tons, respectively.
“This agreement will help unlock a new domestic supply of critical metals for the low-carbon transition through responsible mining,” commented Teck president and CEO Don Lindsay.
PolyMet has navigated the NorthMet project through the comprehensive federal and state environmental review process and federal land exchange – a process that involved considerable public involvement and tribal consultation. NorthMet earned nearly two dozen state and federal permits necessary to build and operate the mine and processing facility. Three permits are pending final resolution to achieve project approval.
NorthMet is expected to produce 29 000 t/d of ore over a 20-year permitted mine life, with first production targeted for 2026. Over its first full five years of operations, NorthMet is expected to deliver payable production of 30 000 t/y of copper, 3 600 t/y of nickel, 58 000 oz/y of palladium, and 12 000 oz/y of platinum.
The Mesaba mineral deposit, located near the NorthMet project, contains one of the world’s biggest undeveloped copper/nickel resources, Teck says. While further studies and community consultations are required to fully define the long-term development potential, Mesaba represents a strategic metal resource for North America.