PolyMet, the company hoping to build Minnesota's first copper-nickel mine, named an executive from Swiss mining giant and majority shareholder Glencore to its board of directors Friday.
Hilmar Rode, who leads operational strategy, technical services and projects and capital management for Glencore's copper assets group, replaces Peter Freyberg, another Glencore executive, on the board. The move maintains Glencore’s three seats on the eight-member board, PolyMet said.
Glencore has long been involved in PolyMet's planned open pit copper-nickel mine, processing facility and tailings dam near Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes, beginning with PolyMet borrowing $25 million from Glencore in 2008.
In June, Glencore in June took a majority of shares in PolyMet in a rights offering to clear over $240 million in debt PolyMet owed to Glencore. The move left Glencore owning almost 72% of PolyMet's common shares, up from owning 29% of shares before the rights offering.
PolyMet opponents have long raised concerns over Glencore’s labor and environmental record.
Supporters say the PolyMet project would bring much-needed jobs to the region while opponents say it would send toxic runoff into the St. Louis River Watershed and Lake Superior.
While the project became the first fully permitted copper-nickel mine in the state in 2018, several of its permits were placed on hold amid numerous legal challenges.