Permit to Mine
PolyMet's NorthMet Mining Project

The purpose of a permit to mine is to control the possible adverse environmental effects of mining by ensuring orderly construction and development of a mine, sound operational practices, and progressive reclamation of mined areas. This permit ensures that a mine is developed in a manner that facilitates future land uses. A permit to mine also includes provisions that govern wetland impacts and mitigation, and it is the key permit for setting financial assurance requirements for a mine. Financial assurance is required to provide adequate funding that the DNR could access in the event that a company abandons a project, fails to properly maintain or reclaim the site, or fails to correct noncompliance.

PolyMet submitted a permit to mine application for its proposed NorthMet project. This application includes PolyMet's proposals for financial assurance and the wetland replacement plan. DNR technical staff along with its consultants reviewed the application details to determine whether the proposed project is designed to meet state standards, provides appropriate financial assurance, and incorporates the environmental protections outlined in the Environmental Impact Statement. Following review of PolyMet's permit to mine application, DNR prepared draft special conditions for the application. Together, the application and the draft special conditions are considered the draft permit to mine for the NorthMet project.

The DNR accepted comments and objections on the draft permit to mine via the State’s PolyMet Portal ( during the public comment and objection period, which concluded on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Petitions for a contested case hearing were accepted in writing through close of business (4:30 P.M.) on February 28, 2018. As part of the draft permit to mine comment and objection process, the DNR also held two public meetings jointly with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Public meetings were held on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at Mesabi East High School in Aurora, MN and on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) in Duluth, MN. Comments and written objections on the NorthMet draft permit to mine were accepted at these meetings.

Written comments and objections were also accepted during the public comment period by U.S. Mail. Comments, written objections, and petitions will all be fully considered by the DNR prior to making a final decision. They will become part of the official record and as such, may be made available for public examination.

Before proceeding with the proposed NorthMet Mining Project, PolyMet must obtain a total of 12 DNR permits as well as other state, federal, and local permits and approvals. The DNR permits and approvals that are needed include the permit to mine (including financial assurance and wetlands replacement), water appropriation permits, dam safety permits, public waters work permit, burning permit, and an endangered species takings permit.

Where are we in the overall permitting process?

View timeline graphic (3 MB)
View timeline text only (1 MB)  

Contested Case Hearing Petitions March 7, 2018

The DNR received two petitions under Minnesota Statutes 93.483 requesting that the Commissioner hold a contested case hearing on the draft permit to mine for the proposed NorthMet mining project. One petition was received from WaterLegacy, and a joint petition was received from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness (FBWW). Complete copies of the petitions and their attachments are posted below. The DNR will accept written responses to these petitions through Friday, April 6, 2018.

The DNR fact sheet Formal Objections and Petitions for Contested Case Hearing describes the contested case petition process under Minnesota Statutes 93.483 subd.1-2.

WaterLegacy Petition (February 27, 2018)

Joint MCEA-CBD-FBWW Petition (February 28, 2018)

Any responses to the petitions for a contested case hearing on the draft permit to mine must be submitted in writing to the address below. Voluminous exhibits to responses may be submitted in electronic form, (on CD/DVD or jumpdrive) but one non-electronic copy of the written response must be submitted to the address below. Hand-delivered responses must be received by close of business (4:30 P.M.) on Friday, April 6, 2018. Responses sent by US Mail must be postmarked on or before April 6, 2018.

MN Department of Natural Resources 
Division of Lands and Minerals 
500 Lafayette Road N, Box 45 
St. Paul, MN 55155-4045

Any responses will become part of the official record and, as such, may be available for public examination. 

Draft Permit to Mine
(Polymet's Application and DNR's Draft Special Conditions together are considered the Draft Permit to Mine)
January 5, 2018

To view PolyMet's Permit to Mine application, DNR's Draft Special Conditions, and Project Factsheets in PDF format please use the links below:

To view the references for Appendix 18.1, Wetland Replacement Plan, use the link below:
Wetland Replacement Plan References » (1/9/2018)

To view PolyMet's Permit to Mine application and appendices separately use the link below:
View or download files separately » (12/13/2017)

Project Fact Sheets


Reference Documents for Permit to Mine Application
December 13, 2017

Reference Documents for Wetland Replacement Plan
January 5, 2018



Permit Related Documents

State consultant financial assurance reports
Added on January 11, 2017


Initial Permit to Mine Application
November 3, 2016

To view PolyMet's initial Permit to Mine application in PDF format please use the links below:


 Appendix Documents for Initial Permit to Mine Application


Reference Documents for Initial Permit to Mine Application



April 19th, 2016 Public Meeting

Informational page from past public meeting on April 19, 2016