What we know about NorthMet, Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine
PolyMet Mining, th...
The first ever copper-nickel mine in Minnesota could be one step closer to coming to life following the submission of a mine permit.
PolyMet Mining, the Toronto based mine development company, has submitted a Permit to Mine Application to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Mine Waste Management.
The Permit to Mine is one of several major permits required to construct and operate the NorthMet copper-nickel precious metals project located in northeastern Minnesota.
The application is the last of the major permit applications, following submission of water-related and air quality permit applications to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) and DNR during the summer.
What is the NorthMet copper-nickel precious metals project?
The NorthMet Project is part of northeastern Minnesota’s Duluth Complex, one of the world’s largest known undeveloped deposits of copper, nickel and other precious metals.
As mentioned above, it would represent the first in Minnesota to commercially extract metals from the Duluth Complex.
PolyMet has estimated that the project will produce 72 million pounds of copper, 15.4 million pounds of nickel, 720,000 pounds of cobalt and 106,000 troy ounces of precious metals on an annual basis.
Specifically, the NorthMet deposit is located in the Partridge River Intrusion of the Duluth Complex. It is a large tonnage disseminated sulphide deposit in heterogeneous troctolitic rocks associated with the 1.1billion-year-old Mid-Continent Rift.
Say that three times without failing.
The 1.1billion year-old Mid Continent Rife contains copper, nickel, cobalt. Platinum, palladium, gold and silver – a very rich deposit indeed.
The NorthMet Project contains two assets of note, obviously, the deposit itself and the former Erie processing facilities and infrastructure that together cover approximately 16,700 contiguous acres – which we can say is around 26 square miles.
Should the company receive mining permits, the mine will operate for 20 years at a mining rate of 32,000 tons of ore per day.
The mine itself will consist of three open pits, the West Pit, the East Pit and – yes of course, the Central Pit.
Ore from the mine will transported six miles west to a processing facility via rail. The facility, which was idled in 2001 and purchased by PolyMet in 2005, is designed to process 32,000 tons of ore per day.
The company, through independent research, believes that through the NorthMet Project:
- More than 600 indirect and induced jobs in goods and services and other sectors where PolyMet dollars will flow.
- $515 million annually in St. Louis County alone in wages, benefits and other spending. This amounts to more than $10 billion over the 20-year life of the mine.
- $15 million annually in state and local tax revenues, or $300 million over the life of mine.
- $45 million annually in federal tax revenue, or $900 million over the life of the mine.
- More than $2 million annually for northeastern Minnesota schools.
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Zimbabwe targets £8.8bn mining industry by 2023
Zimbabwe’s government plans to fast-track exploration, evaluation and digitalisation of selected reserved mining areas under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development as part of wider measures to achieve a £8.8 billion mining industry by 2023, according to a senior government minister.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said other plans include stopping the issuance of special grants in the reserved areas under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development until the exploration and evaluation is complete and a robust value addition program for diamonds is implemented.
Mutsvangwa was speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing on December 15.
She adds that the issuance and renewal of special grants for energy should also be based on the financial and technical capacity to value add all types of coal, as well as for ideal exploration of Coal Bed Methane.
For renewal of special grants, consideration should take into account the period the Special Grant has been held as well as plans with milestones for value addition of the special grant, Mutsvangwa says. She adds that the Zimbabwean government expects gold to drive the mining sector in order to achieve the ambitious target, with the precious metal expected to contribute approximately £2.96 billion to the overall target.
Mining is one of Zimbabwe’s major contributors to its economy, alongside agriculture, which is the mainstay. The mining sector accounted for more than 60 percent of the country’s foreign currency receipts in 2019, and contributed around 16 percent to national Gross Domestic Product, the Chamber of Mines says.
The country’s mining industry is focused on a diverse range of small to medium mining operations. The most important minerals produced in Zimbabwe include gold, asbestos, chromite, coal and base metals.
Zimbabwe expects its economy to expand by 7.4 percent in 2021 from a projected contraction of 4.5 percent this year, due to the effects of drought and the COVID-19 global pandemic.
When presenting the 2021 National Budget in November this year, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said that the mining sector is projected to rebound by 11 percent next year after surviving a COVID-19 induced shock that saw the sector contract by 4.7 percent in 2020. In September, mining bans in national parks were introduced, according to news agencies.
He added that the National Budget would allocate £1 billion towards the operations of the ministry for planning, promotion and exploration, data capturing, and automation, among other key mining processes.
Other factors necessary for the achievement of the £8.8 billion target include a stable macroeconomic environment, policy consistency, and availability of long-term capital to fund mining projects along the entire mineral value chain, the minister said.
Stopping "illicit financial flows" from gold smuggling is another key issue to address, according to media reports.