Poly Met Mining Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of PolyMet Mining Corp., announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued its Record of Decision and Section 404 wetlands permit for the NorthMet Project. Along with recently issued state permits, PolyMet now holds all necessary permits to construct and operate the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals mine and processing plant located near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota.
PolyMet also announced it has entered into an extension agreement with Glencore AG with respect to the approximate US$243 million in secured convertible and non-convertible debt owing to Glencore, which is due to mature on March 31. Glencore has agreed to extend the maturity date of the debt to provide PolyMet time to prepare for and complete a rights offering by June 30, fully backstopped by Glencore, to raise sufficient funds to repay the outstanding debt. In connection with the extension agreement, the company has also agreed to issue additional purchase warrants to Glencore and to make certain amendments to the existing exchange warrants held by Glencore, subject to applicable stock exchange approval.
“While our immediate goal is to address the Glencore debt, we are proud to be the first mining company to be fully permitted to responsibly build and operate a copper-nickel-precious metals mine within the world-class Duluth Complex,” said Jon Cherry, president and CEO. “Our employees, shareholders, Iron Rangers, labor and business partners all share in this historic achievement. They have steadfastly believed in, worked tirelessly toward and provided unwavering support for this project for so long.”
The issuance of the federal wetlands permit follows Minnesota regulators’ issuance late last year of the Permit to Mine, dam safety, water appropriations, water and air quality, and public waters work permits, representing a total of 18 state and federal permits and approvals.
The company is refining the technical details of the project as planning for final engineering and construction are under way. Initial site preparation work has already begun, such as monitoring well installations, asbestos abatement, infill and geotechnical drilling.
“Importantly, receipt of this final permit enables us to move forward with project financing which is expected to take several months,” Cherry said.
PolyMet aims to be the first mining company to commercially produce copper and nickel, in addition to platinum, palladium, gold and cobalt, from the Duluth Complex base and precious metal deposits in the Iron Range mining district in northeastern Minnesota.
The company expects to build and operate open pit mining operations that are expected to yield approximately 1.2 billion pounds of copper, 170 million pounds of nickel, 6.2 million pounds of cobalt and 1.6 million ounces of precious metals including 1.2 million ounces of palladium and 290,000 ounces of platinum, over a 20-year mine life.