PolyMet's NorthMet Mining Project

Permit to Mine
PolyMet's NorthMet Mining Project

The purpose of a permit to mine is to control the possible adverse environmental effects of mining by ensuring orderly construction and development of a mine, sound operational practices, and progressive reclamation of mined areas. This permit ensures that a mine is developed in a manner that facilitates future land uses. A permit to mine also includes provisions that govern wetland impacts and mitigation, and it is the key permit for setting financial assurance requirements for a mine. Financial assurance is required to provide adequate funding that the DNR could access in the event that a company abandons a project, fails to properly maintain or reclaim the site, or fails to correct noncompliance.

PolyMet has submitted a permit to mine application for its proposed NorthMet project. This application includes PolyMet's proposals for financial assurance and the wetland replacement plan. DNR technical staff along with its consultants reviewed the application details to determine whether the proposed project is designed to meet state standards, provides appropriate financial assurance, and has incorporated the environmental protections outlined in the Environmental Impact Statement. Following review of PolyMet's permit to mine application, DNR has prepared draft special conditions for the application. Together, the application and the draft special conditions are considered the draft permit to mine for the NorthMet project.

The DNR has placed the draft permit to mine on public notice for review and comment, initiating the public's opportunity to formally engage in the process prior to a final decision on the NorthMet project. The notice also initiates an objection period as detailed in Minnesota Rules. Minnesota Rules allow qualifying individuals or entities to submit formal written objections to a draft permit to mine. An individual or entity submitting a written objection must meet specific criteria and include all information outlined in Minnesota Rules 6132.4000 subp. 2. See DNR Formal Objections and Petitions for Contested Case Hearing fact sheet PDF for more detail on the objection process. This fact sheet also describes the contested case petition process under Minnesota Statutes 93.483 subd.1-2. Both the objection and petition processes are distinct from the general public’s ability to submit any and all comments concerning the draft permit.

Comments, written objections, and petitions will all be fully considered by the DNR prior to making a final decision. They will become part of the official record and as such, may be made available for public examination.

The DNR will accept comments and objections on the draft permit to mine via the State’s PolyMet Portal (http://polymet.mn.gov/) during the public comment and objection period, which is now open and concludes on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Petitions for a contested case hearing may not be submitted electronically through the commenting portal.

As part of the draft permit to mine comment and objection process, the DNR will also hold two public meetings jointly with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Public meetings will be held on:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt) High School
601 N 1st St W, Aurora, MN 55705
4:00-9:00 p.m. Open house
6:00-9:00 p.m. Public comment forum

Thursday, February 8, 2018
DECC - Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802
1:00-9:00 p.m. Open house
6:00-9:00 p.m. Public comment forum

In case of a weather-related cancellation, the following alternative meeting dates have been established: 1) Wednesday, February 21, 2018, Mesabi East (Aurora-Hoyt) High School – Aurora as a substitute for the scheduled February 7 meeting; 2) Thursday, February 22, 2018, DECC – Duluth as a substitute for the scheduled February 8 meeting. The DNR will notify the public of any cancellations or time or venue changes via GovDelivery message, press release and/or social media.

Comments and written objections on the NorthMet draft permit to mine will be accepted at these meetings. Stenographers will be available to record oral comments offered individually and during the public comment forum. In addition, comment boxes will be available for submitting written comments and objections at the meetings and staff from both the DNR and MPCA will be available to answer questions during each open house.

Written comments and objections may be submitted at any time during the public comment period by U.S. Mail to:

MN Department of Natural Resources
Division of Lands and Minerals
500 Lafayette Road N, Box 45
St. Paul, MN 55155-4045

Comments, written objections, and petitions will all be fully considered by the DNR prior to making a final decision. They will become part of the official record and as such, may be made available for public examination.

Before proceeding with the proposed NorthMet Mining Project, PolyMet must obtain a total of 12 DNR permits as well as other state, federal, and local permits and approvals. The DNR permits and approvals that are needed include the permit to mine (including financial assurance and wetlands replacement), water appropriation permits, dam safety permits, public waters work permit, burning permit, and an endangered species takings permit.


Where are we in the overall permitting process?

View timeline graphic (3 MB) PDF »
View timeline text only (1 MB) PDF  »


Draft Permit to Mine
(Polymet's Application and DNR's Draft Special Conditions together are considered the Draft Permit to Mine)
January 5, 2018

To view PolyMet's Permit to Mine application, DNR's Draft Special Conditions, and Project Factsheets in PDF format please use the links below:

To view the references for Appendix 18.1, Wetland Replacement Plan, use the link below:
Wetland Replacement Plan References » (1/9/2018)

To view the PolyMet's Permit to Mine application and appendices separately use the link below:
View or download files separately » (12/13/2017)

Project Fact Sheets


Reference Documents for Permit to Mine Application
December 13, 2017

Reference Documents for Wetland Replacement Plan
January 5, 2018



Permit Related Documents

State consultant financial assurance reports
Added on January 11, 2017


Initial Permit to Mine Application
November 3, 2016

To view PolyMet's initial Permit to Mine application in PDF format please use the links below:


 Appendix Documents for Initial Permit to Mine Application


Reference Documents for Initial Permit to Mine Application



April 19th, 2016 Public Meeting

Informational page from past public meeting on April 19, 2016