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Looking ahead: PolyMet CEO talks status of project, pending litigation

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HOYT LAKES, MN -- It has been 17 years since PolyMet began planning its NorthMet project. While the copper and nickel mine is now fully permitted, there's another phase the company is working through.

"We're in the middle of a fair bit of litigation right now."

That's PolyMet's President and CEO Jon Cherry, who has been with the company for about nine years.

"We'd like to get going as soon as we could obviously, but that's always going to be a function of litigation. We have to make sure we get through the litigation, all the i's are dotted and all the t's are crossed, but we're getting towards the end of that process now."

Those opposed to the project continue to push back on permits issued citing a threat to the environment. As a result of that, there are ongoing court cases at both the federal and state level over permits issued by regulatory agencies like the DNR and the EPA.

"The permit to mine is infront of the Supreme Court right now and we expect a decision from the Supreme Court literally anyday at this point. Its been there approximately six months and that's normally the amount of time it takes the Supreme Court to come to a decision. So again, we're very excited, we want that decision, we're confident that we'll have a very good decision on that and we can't wait to see it."

As the court cases play out, Cherry said they still have work to do.

"For the next year we should be finishing up the litigation and in the meantime we continue on with some engineering work. We continue to look at ways to optimize the project to make it better, more efficient, more economic and anything we can do to improve the project. So, we're trying to use our time productively while we're in litigation to continue to make the project better so that's our focus right now."

The Minnesota Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision on PolyMet's Permit to Mine any day now. That permit was issued to the company from the Minnesota DNR in December of 2018.

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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