[ferro-alloys.com]PolyMet Mining now will try to secure $945 million in financing for Minnesota's first copper, nickel and cobalt mine after the company received its final regulatory permit for the NorthMet project, a company official said Monday.
The US Army Corps of Engineers last week issued a Section 404 wetlands permit last week for NorthMet. The permit allows PolyMet to move forward with construction at the site near Hoyt Lakes in northeastern Minnesota.
The company aims to be the first mining company to commercially produce copper and nickel, in addition to cobalt, platinum, palladium and gold, from one of the four Dutch Complex base and precious metal deposits in Minnesota's historic Iron Range district.
But first it needs to raise more money for construction, Bruce Richardson, a company spokesman, said.
Richardson declined to predict precisely when construction will get underway, saying "it will be a function of how long it will take for financing."
"It's going to take some time," he said, presumably at least several months, meaning it is uncertain if construction will begin before the end of 2019, as had been suggested previously.
With the construction period expected to last 24 to 30 months, first production conceivably could come between late 2021 and mid- to late 2022.
According to Richardson, "all options" are on the financing table. They could include a combination of debt and equity.
Also unclear is what impact, if any, several pending lawsuits by environmentalists seeking to scuttle the project might have. It is possible, Richardson said, that if a judge down the road issues an injunction against the company, then all work would have to stop at least until the litigation was resolved. He does not anticipate such a scenario.
Glencore remains a financial supporter of the project, he said.
NorthMet is expected to produce 72,000 lb/year of copper, 15.4 million lb/year of nickel, 720,000 lb/year of cobalt and 106,000 oz/year of precious metals in concentrate.
(S&P Global Platts)