NewRange reviews options after USACE decision to revoke water permit for NorthMet project

NorthMet project in Minnesota. Image from Polymet.

NewRange Copper Nickel, a recent joint venture between Teck and Polymet to advance the Northmet project in Minnesota, responded on Tuesday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) decision to revoke the Clean Water Act section 404 permit for NorthMet and called for a review of the decision.

NewRange holds both the NorthMet and Mesaba copper, nickel, cobalt, and platinum group metal deposits in northeastern Minnesota.

The two resources contain measured and indicated resources of 637 million tonnes and 2 billion tonnes for NorthMet and Mesaba respectively, and additional inferred resources of 400 million tonnes and 1.3 billion tonnes respectively.

In total, the two assets represent approximately one-half of the known 7.25-billion-tonne Duluth Complex resource.

Glencore committed to support PolyMet’s respective portion of NewRange’s initial $170 million work program and other costs and expenses in the amount of approximately $100 million.

“Today’s decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reversal of thoroughly reviewed water quality data that has been collected and assessed over the last decade, NewRange said in a statement. “The planned NorthMet Project development is protective of water, air and other resources and can produce copper, nickel and platinum group metals (PGM) in a responsible and sustainable manner.”

NewRange said the project shows that through its proposed water treatment and management processes, it will remove more than 1,400 tons of sulfate per year from the St. Louis River system — the result of historic iron ore mining operations — and will lead to a net reduction in pre-existing mercury loading to the river system.

“NewRange is reviewing all of our options as we chart a course forward for the development of the NorthMet Project in a safe and environmentally responsible manner that considers NewRange’s communities of interest,” the company said.

The project has faced several challenges during the permitting process for the project.

A year ago, the Minnesota Court of Appeals granted PolyMet’s motion to dismiss the last remaining challenge to PolyMet’s air permit for NorthMet.