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PolyMet CEO: Talks ongoing with banks to make deal for NorthMet project

DULUTH, MN — With all permits in hand and debt off the books, PolyMet is now focused on putting together it’s financing package for the NorthMet project.

The company needs to raise $950 million. President and CEO Jon Cherry said the company has been in talks with banks in the U.S., Canada, and Europe to make a deal.

“Now that the debt is cleaned up and the balance sheet is clean we’re now in a position to go back out and re-engage them and put together the total finance package but that will take several months to work through,” said Jon Cherry, President and CEO at PolyMet.

With Glencore now the majority shareholder, Cherry said PolyMet will engage with the Swiss-based company as they get into financing but nothing will change in regards to the project that’s been permitted.

“If you don’t follow the rules and you don’t follow the regulations you won’t be allowed to mine and make a profit, so there’s actually a very very strong financial incentive to ensure that everything is done correctly.”

Although permits are now in the hands of PolyMet, recent emails regarding the water quality permit issued by the MPCA have raised questions about the permitting process prompting a review by the legislative auditor.

Cherry said to their knowledge it won’t impact the project.

“The process was very well documented and what this entire issue is about is it was allegedly a draft comment letter from the EPA but all of their comments, as I understand it, were addressed between the draft permit and the final permit,” said Cherry. “Right now the permit is issued, it’s a valid permit and we’re proceeding on that basis.”

Talks of shovels in the ground have been swirling since the company received its Permit to Mine.

While Cherry said he’d love nothing more than to see some hardhats on the property, for now, the focus is on financing.

“We’d like to get going as soon as we possibly could but it will strictly be a function of putting that project finance package together. So as soon as we get that done then we’ll know better.”

We did reach out to the legislative auditor’s office for clarification on its role in a review of permits and what the possible outcomes could be but did not hear back by news time.

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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