PolyMet Mining Corp. reported that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) issued its final record of decision authorizing the land exchange for PolyMet’s NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals project located in the established Mesabi Iron Range mining district in northeastern Minnesota. 

PolyMet will receive about 6,650 acres of surface land above and around the NorthMet ore body. change it to: Upon completion of the title transfer, PolyMet’s total contiguous surface rights will be approximately 19,000 acres (30 square miles), including the existing Erie Plant, tailings basin, areas to the north, east and west of the tailings basin, and the transportation corridor between the mine site and the plant.

“The Forest Service’s decision further validates both the final environmental impact statement and the comprehensive process supporting this final record of decision. This is an incredibly important milestone for PolyMet as we consolidate the surface land and mineral ownership in and around the NorthMet ore body and Erie Plant site,” said Jon Cherry, president and CEO, PolyMet. 

In exchange, PolyMet will transfer to the USFS four parcels of land totaling 6,690 acres currently owned or controlled by PolyMet. The USFS cited several benefits of the exchange. There is a 40-acre overall increase in the National Forest lands, a 505-acre increase in wetlands under federal ownership, and a 94-acre increase in public lakes with water frontage available for public and tribal use. Lands that have no public overland access and are adjacent to existing ferrous mining areas are being exchanged for lands with public access located within the Superior National Forest. There is also a cost savings from a 33-mile reduction in boundaries and elimination of two easements currently managed by the Forest Service.

A more detailed description of the USFS land exchange can be found here.

Poly Met Mining completed a definitive feasibility study for NorthMet and a final EIS was published in November 2015, preparing the way for decisions on permit applications. NorthMet is expected to require approximately 2 million hours of construction labor, creating approximately 360 long-term jobs.