State nonferrous metallic mineral leasing - negotiated leases

State Executive Council Approves Leases and Lease Amendment

On October 29, 2021, the State Executive Council approved the issuance of three negotiated metallic mineral leases to Vermillion Gold, Inc. (Vermillion) and approved an amendment to an existing metallic mineral lease held by Kennecott Exploration Company (Kennecott). Both companies already hold a number of state metallic mineral leases.

The three leases approved for Vermillion cover 866 acres in St. Louis County. Most of the revenue generated from these leases will go to support the local school district, county, and township. Eighty acres of the leased area is on school trust land, and most of the revenue from the lease of those lands will support public schools.

The amendment to Kennecott’s existing lease added a 40-acre parcel in Aitkin County. Revenue generated from Kennecott’s lease amendment will go to support the local school district, county, and township.

The maps and data tables below display the approved leases and lease amendment – and active state nonferrous metallic mineral leases in the area.

 

Maps and data

State nonferrous metallic mineral leasing web map

Vermillion request

Location of Vermillion Gold’s lease request in St. Louis County

Kennecott request

Location of Kennecott Exploration Co’s lease request in Aitkin County

 

More information

Vermillion

Vermillion currently holds 14 leases covering 4,856.12 acres of land in Itasca and St. Louis counties.

  • In Itasca County, six leases cover 2,461.37 acres of land.
  • In St. Louis County, eight leases cover 2,394.75 acres of land.

Kennecott

Kennecott currently has 69 leases covering 29,413.38 acres of land in Aitkin and Carlton counties.

  • In Aitkin County, 48 leases cover 21,970.03 acres of land.
  • In Carlton County, 21 leases cover 7,443.35 acres of land.

Before offering state lands and minerals for lease, the DNR collects extensive data on land uses and environmental features. This critical study of the land helps DNR determine whether to offer specific locations for lease and set special conditions the company must follow during exploration to protect Minnesota’s natural environment. For each lease request, the DNR carefully considers the presence of surrounding trout streams, wild rice waters, state trails and recreation sites, endangered species, native plant communities and other resources. Areas like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Mississippi River headwaters corridor are not available for lease.

 

North Star Manganese request

This request is by North Star Manganese, Inc. (North Star) to lease 800 acres in Crow Wing County. North Star intends to explore for manganese. Because the negotiated lease request is to explore for manganiferous iron ore, North Star has applied for both taconite iron ore leases and nonferrous metallic minerals leases in the same area.

Maps and data

State nonferrous metallic mineral leasing web map

 

 

More information

Manganese is a metallic mineral often associated with iron ore. The manganese found in Crow Wing County is the 2nd largest known manganese deposit in the United States. Manganese is an essential alloy used to convert iron into steel, making steel less brittle and adding strength. Currently and historically, the demand for manganese is primarily driven by the steel making industry. More recently, manganese has become an increasingly important mineral for the manufacturing of green energy technologies, such as electric vehicle batteries and off-the-grid power systems.

The US Geological Survey included manganese on its list of 35 critical minerals. The US uses about 500,000 tons (1.1 billion pounds) of manganese per year and is currently 100% reliant on foreign sources for its supply.

Additional information about manganese:

US Geological Survey brochure

Minnesota DNR brochure

Before offering state lands and minerals for lease, the DNR collects extensive data on land uses and environmental features. This critical study of the land helps DNR determine whether to offer specific locations for lease and set special conditions the company must follow during exploration to protect Minnesota’s natural environment. For each lease request, the DNR carefully considers the presence of surrounding trout streams, wild rice waters, state trails and recreation sites, endangered species, native plant communities and other resources. Areas like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the Mississippi River headwaters corridor are not available for lease.

 

Public input

The public input period is now closed.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit input about North Star Manganese’s lease request. The DNR is in the process of reviewing the public input. We will be posting additional information about the lease request on this web page.

 

The State Executive Council must approve the negotiated lease

Under Minnesota law, the State Executive Council – the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, and Minnesota Attorney General – must approve all state metallic minerals leases, including negotiated leases, before DNR can issue them.

Following consideration of the public input, the DNR will make a final decision about whether to negotiate with the company and present proposed leases to the State Executive Council. The State Executive Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is on December 1, 2021 and is open to the public. Information about Executive Council meetings involving minerals leasing will be posted on this website and the State Executive Council’s website. The DNR will not be bringing the requested North Star Manganese leases to the December 1, 2021 State Executive Council meeting.

 

What are mineral leases?

A state mineral lease does not mean that the holder of the lease has the right to start a mining operation. A state metallic mineral lease grants the lessee authority to explore for a mineral deposit but with certain conditions. The lessee is under lease terms that have conditions to help protect the public and environment (see lease form). Any exploration on state land requires the explorer to send an Exploration Plan to the DNR for approval before any exploration on the ground can begin. If a lessee does discover a mineral deposit, environmental review and mining permits are mandatory before mining can begin.

 

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