What metals will PolyMet mine and what are they used for?

July 26, 2017

Dear Zenith News:

I’m curious about learning more about your perspective on the PolyMet deal [“Land Swap,” July 4, 2017]. It would interest this observer to know your perspectives on specifically what the minerals mined are for and what they have been used for specifically. Loved the article, thank you for all you do.

Erica Allen


Jennifer Martin-Romme replies: Thanks for your letter, Ms. Allen! PolyMet wants to mine the NorthMet ore deposit for mostly copper and nickel. To a lesser extent, they’ll mine for cobalt, platinum, palladium, silver, and gold.

Copper has a lot of industrial uses, but electrical devices and wiring are the most common. Nickel is used to make stainless steel. Cobalt is used in the petroleum and chemical industries, and as a drying agent in paint and ink. Platinum and palladium are used in manufacturing to render products resistant to chemicals, heat, and electrical conduction. Gold is still mostly used for jewelry. Silver is used in electrical products, photography, and the chemical industry.

These are important metals, and your question needs to be a part of the ongoing conversation about PolyMet.


When asked for comment, Kevin Lee, staff attorney at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, replied in part:

It is true that copper is an important metal. We use a lot of it, and it will continue to be mined all across the world. But one thing that our mining history makes clear is that mining projects destroy communities just as often as they help them. With that history, it is critical to know exactly who you are going into business with. PolyMet’s primary financial backer is Glencore, a multinational mining conglomerate. Glencore has a particularly egregious pattern of tearing communities down while they extract what they want, not supporting and working with communities.

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