The NorthMet project—Minnesota’s first permitted copper-nickel and platinum-group-elements mine—will produce 32,000 tons of ore per day, processing it in a refurbished taconite plant. Barr has been instrumental in helping NewRange Copper Nickel (formerly PolyMet Mining) develop the project.
Environmental services: As the lead environmental consultant since the mine was first proposed in 2004, Barr collected the baseline data required to support evaluation of the high-profile project, from delineating wetlands and conducting botanical surveys to installing groundwater monitoring wells. Our technical teams performed impact modeling and analyses to assess the project’s potential environmental impacts on air quality, surface water, groundwater, wetlands, wildlife, and other natural resources. The co-lead agencies (U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) used the results to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
We subsequently supported PolyMet in preparing applications for the key permits needed for the project, which included a permit to mine and permits governing air, wetlands, water appropriations, wastewater discharge, and dam safety. In March 2019, the Corps issued the final permit needed to begin mine construction.
Engineering services: Early in the project development, Barr worked closely with PolyMet to develop a conceptual project definition and prepare a definitive feasibility study. We have continued to support the project’s advancement by developing conceptual- and permitting-level designs for the tailings basin, hydrometallurgical-residue-storage facility, seepage-containment systems, wastewater treatment plant, water management features, mechanical infrastructure, and other ancillary components. Through siting studies and alternatives evaluations, our engineers helped PolyMet design a project that would be economically feasible yet minimize potential environmental impacts.
New construction at the NorthMet site is expected to begin in 2024.