PolyMet Mining Corp. has announced the filing of an updated technical report (the “Study” or this “report”) prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”) on the NorthMet Project. This report reaffirms the economic and technical viability of the NorthMet copper-nickel-precious metals project located near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota.
This report, entitled “NorthMet Copper-Nickel Project Feasibility Update”, contains original plans but updated cost estimates for construction and operation of the NorthMet Project. Dated December 30, 2022, this report supersedes the previously filed NorthMet Project Technical Report published March 26, 2018.
This report provides technical and economic details for development of the mining operation in two distinct phases. Phase I involves development of 225 million tons – less than one-third of NorthMet’s known resource – into an operating mine processing 32,000 tons per day over a 20-year mine life. It also includes rehabilitating the former LTV Steel Mining Company processing plant and using state-of-the-art wastewater treatment to clean up water issues from legacy iron-ore operations at the site.
The revised capital costs for Phase I are estimated at US$1.2 billion and include refurbishment of the existing primary crushing circuit and replacing the existing rod and ball mill circuits with a new, modern semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill, ball mill and flotation circuit. It also includes rail and electrical system upgrades and mining equipment.
Phase II involves construction and operation of a hydrometallurgical plant to treat nickel sulfide concentrates into upgraded nickel-cobalt hydroxide and recover additional copper and platinum-group metals. While development of Phase II will be at the company’s discretion, both phases have been fully permitted, pending litigation. Phase II would increase project capital costs by approximately US$325 million.
“This report once again reaffirms the technical and financial viability of the 32,000 tpd case for which the project was permitted. An improved market forecast created by soaring demand for clean energy metals such as copper, nickel and cobalt more than offsets inflationary pressures and improves the project’s valuations and returns,” said Jon Cherry, chairman, president and CEO.
“Our focus remains on closing the proposed joint venture with Teck, clearing up outstanding litigation, meeting our environmental obligations under the terms of our permits, and financing and building the project,” Cherry said. The company in July entered into an agreement with Teck Resources Limited (“Teck”) to form the NewRange Copper Nickel LLC joint venture, placing their respective NorthMet and Mesaba deposits of clean energy metals under single management. The joint venture is expected to close by the end of Q1 2023, and is subject to receipt of customary closing conditions and receipt of certain regulatory approvals.