The U.S. Forest Service and PolyMet Mining exchanged titles Thursday on a controversial land exchange that will provide contiguous land for both entities.PolyMet officials have said the trade was necessary to accommodate development of a copper-nickel-precious mine near Hoyt Lakes.

“With land title from the Forest Service, we now have the secure foundation on which we can complete development of this project,” Jon Cherry, PolyMet president and CEO, said in a prepared afternoon statement.

The transfer of surface rights for approximately 6,650 acres of federal lands to PolyMet gives the company control over both surface and mineral rights in and around the NorthMet ore body. PolyMet’s transfer of four tracts of private land to the Forest Service totaling 6,690 acres further consolidates the Superior National Forest’s land holdings in northeast Minnesota, the company said.

With the exchange, PolyMet has total surface rights, including ownership and other use and occupancy rights, to approximately 30 square miles of land including land at the mine and processing sites, the transportation corridor connecting those sites, and buffer space.