Mining firm PolyMet hires new CEO

Polymet, the company that's been working for more than four years on environmental review for a proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, has hired a new CEO.

The company describes its new top executive, Jon Cherry, as an expert in environmental review and permitting. He recently helped develop an underground copper mine in Arizona, and before that worked on the planned Eagle copper mine in Michigan.

Polymet spokeswoman LaTisha Gietzen says Cherry brings experience with environmental review and permitting.

"It's really broadening the leadership team as we move forward closer to construction and start-up," Gietzen said.

In a statement, Cherry says he has considered Polymet's plans and is confident the project can meet state and federal environmental standards.

But environmental groups say that experience may not help Polymet.

Polymet has struggled to complete an environmental review for the project, to be located near Hoyt Lakes. After the federal government, tribal and environmental groups raised objections to an earlier version, the company says a revised report will be ready early next year.

Molly Pederson with Conservation Minnesota said so far Polymet has not been able to show it can mine for copper and nickel in northeastern Minnesota without harming the environment.

"They have been at this for years. They have not been able to even come close to meeting our standards, either here in Minnesota or set by the United States," Pederson said. "Whether or not Mr. Cherry can help them with that obviously still remains to be seen."

Polymet's longtime CEO, Joe Scipioni, will stay with the company and continue to hold the title of chief operating officer.

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