Nonferrous Metallic Minerals

Exploration Drill Site in Winter

Nonferrous metallic minerals refers to all metals except iron ore and taconite. Nonferrous metallic minerals includes elements such as copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold, silver, cobalt, chromium, zinc, lead, bismuth, tin, tungsten, tantalum, or niobium. Some of these ores contain native gold or native copper, or oxides of chromium or titanium. Conditions and obligations within state mineral leases, environmental review, and permits are all specifically designed to mitigate the environmental impacts of exploration and/or mining. Ferrous metallic minerals refer to iron ore and taconite.

DNR Nonferrous Metallic Minerals Webpages

  • State Leasing: Information related to state leasing of nonferrous metallic minerals. This page includes material on the state's School Trust fiduciary responsibility, state policies, public lease sale, active lease locations, lessees, which minerals are being explored, and history of state leasing.
  • Nonferrous Metallic Minerals Lease Sale: Information related to the current and past public nonferrous metallic mineral leases sales.
  • Exploration Process: Information regarding the typical exploration process to discover a nonferrous metallic mineral deposit. Information includes material on Minnesota's geology and metallic mineral deposits, developing an exploration program, bedrock geology mapping, geophysical surveys, geochemical surveys, and core drilling.
  • Development Process: General information describing the steps involved for an exploration company to take a nonferrous metallic mineral deposit and develop it into a future mine. Since there has never been a nonferrous metallic mineral mine in Minnesota this information is theoretical based on state policies and what companies generally complete in other parts of the world. Also included on this webpage are locations of current known nonferrous metallic mineral deposits.
  • Exploration Plans, Drilling Regulations and Reclamation: Minnesota's regulations and reclamation rules related to metallic mineral exploration and development. Includes general description and listing of exploration plans submitted since November of 2013. Detailed summary of regulation related to exploration drilling is provided, as well as a web link to DNR's reclamation webpage for information on DNR's role in environmental review, permitting mines, inspections, and reclamation rules.
  • Private Exploration Drilling Data and Maps: The DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals compiles data related to private exploration drilling in Minnesota. Provided here are maps and data pertaining to private exploration drilling data since 1987.
  • DNR Reports: The DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals conducts nonferrous metallic mineral and industrial mineral projects in order to assist with activities that fulfill its role and duty to Trusts and state policies.
  • Public Access to Minerals Documents: The DNR has scanned and indexed more than 12,000 mineral exploration documents, collected over a period of 100 years. The public documents provide a rich source of information for future information, environmental research, and historical minerals research. Search by attributes and/or by map.
  • Poly Met Mining, Inc.: Poly Met Mining, Inc. (PolyMet) is proposing to develop a mine and associated processing facilities for the extraction of copper, nickel, and platinum group elements (PGE) in northeastern Minnesota. If permitted, the mine would be the first of its kind in the state.

Nonferrous Metallic Minerals: DNR's Role and Constitutional Duty to the Trust

The DNR's Division of Lands and Minerals has a constitutional duty to convert School Trust mineral land assets into revenue and to secure the maximum long-term economic return for the Permanent School Fund. Mineral revenue, primarily from iron ore and taconite, has generated 80% of the historical total revenue to the Permanent School Fund. Prior to mining, there must be a sequence of related activities that includes exploration, discovery, economic feasibility, large capital investment, engineering of mine plans, environmental review and permitting with financial assurance. 

To achieve the constitutional duty, the Division of Lands and Minerals conducts metallic and industrial mineral investigations related to one or more in the sequence of activities:

  • Mineral Asset Management for School Trust Mineral Lands: Identify, describe, and designate School Trust mineral lands that have valuable metallic mineral deposits.
  • State Mineral Lease Administration:  Promote and market, on a global scale, the state mineral land assets to attract private capital investment to perform the high-cost and high-risk ventures of mineral resource exploration, discovery, and development. Provide technical knowledge of mineral resources and geology to the DNR before, during, and after the mineral leasing process.  Acquire and manage in a spatial Geographic Information System (GIS) format the state mineral lease technical mineral information about the mineral assets and mineral potential. Use that information to prioritize, promote, enhance, and protect the state mineral assets. 
  • Represent the Trusts to Protect Trust Mineral Rights During all DNR Land Transactions: Perform mineral potential reviews of all Trust land transactions, usually where the mineral resources are unknown, to identify and protect the high mineral potential areas that are likely to attract private exploration investment in the future. DNR faces conflicting responsibilities, but must represent the best interest of the Trust and protect it from land designations that would diminish or limit the Trust asset value. Trust mineral rights potentially represent billions of dollars of future Trust royalty revenue. 

If you have questions please contact:
Dennis Martin, Mineral Potential Manager
DNR - Division of Lands and Minerals
500 Lafayette Road 
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-4045
tel. 651-259-5405 
fax 651-296-5939