News release: DNR considers request for negotiated metallic mineral leases

December 10, 2021

Request from Vermillion Gold, Inc. seeks additional areas for mineral lease in St. Louis County

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has received a new request for negotiated nonferrous metallic minerals lease amendments from Vermillion Gold, Inc. (Vermillion).

Vermillion holds state metallic mineral leases in Itasca and St. Louis counties and has been actively exploring for nonferrous minerals for a number of years. Vermillion’s current request seeks to add 120 acres of state-owned minerals to existing state metallic minerals leases located between the cities of Virginia and Gilbert.

The DNR has posted information on its website about this new negotiated lease amendment request, including interactive web maps and details for how to submit public input. The DNR is seeking public input on this request for state leases through January 14, 2022.

Leasing state lands and minerals in Minnesota
Minnesota Statutes, section 93.15, authorizes the DNR to determine which state-owned lands and minerals are available for lease. A state nonferrous metallic mineral lease gives exploration companies like Vermillion authority to explore for deposits of minerals like gold, silver, copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, and cobalt.

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.

Distribution of revenue from mineral leases requested Vermillion
If leases requested by Vermillion are granted, the revenues will benefit St. Louis County, the city of Virginia, their respective school districts, and public schools statewide. A portion of the revenues would pay costs for the administration and management of state mineral resources.

Public input is critical to the DNR’s decision
The DNR is seeking public input before we determine whether to negotiate with the company and present proposed leases to the State Executive Council for approval. All interested parties are encouraged to review interactive web maps and data of the areas requested for lease. Written input about the lease amendment request will be accepted from December 10, through 4:30 p.m. on January 14, 2022.

Minnesota DNR
Division of Lands and Minerals
Attention: Negotiated Metallic Mineral Leases
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4045

Email: [email protected]

The State Executive Council approval of negotiated leases
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 any public input, the DNR will make a final decision about whether to negotiate with the company and present proposed leases to the Executive Council. The State Executive Council’s next meeting is expected to take place in late February 2022 and is open to the public.

If, after considering public comment and conducting its analysis, the DNR does negotiate leases with Vermillion Gold and recommend them to the State Executive Council, it is possible that the Council will consider those leases at its February meeting. Information about Executive Council meetings involving minerals leasing is posted on both the DNR’s website and the State Executive Council’s website.