PolyMet Mining closed a $4-million loan from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and exercised its option to buy 5,375 acres of land it plans to swap with the U.S. Forest Service for its proposed mining operation.
The Canada-based mining corporation announced the news yesterday, HERE.
The loan, which won final approval from the IRRRB in April and was signed by the governor shortly afterward, was criticized by environmental advocates who saw a conflict of interest between the IRRRB, a state entity, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, one of the agencies charged with permitting the company’s proposed open pit copper-nickel mine.
PolyMet plans to swap the private land it is buying within the Superior National Forest to the Forest Service for the land where it intends to develop its mine. PolyMet owns the mineral rights but not the surface rights to the property it plans to mine near Babbitt, MN. The land swap itself has not been finalized; its approval is wrapped into the revised environmental impact statement which is ongoing.
The IRRRB receives 5% interest on the loan from PolyMet and expects to be paid back by June 30, 2016. The loan is secured by the land being purchased. The IRRRB also has the right to purchase $400,000 shares of PolyMet common stock at $2.50 per share before the loan matures, or one year after mining permits are received.