What happened

Shares of prospective precious metals miner PolyMet Mining (NYSEMKT:PLM) are up 10% as of 12:30 p.m. EST Friday. The news driving this change is the announcement that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released a draft of a permit for PolyMet's potential copper, zinc, and precious metal mine in the state.

So what

Most well-established mining companies go through permitting processes without much attention from the market. What makes PolyMet different is that this prospective mine is the company's only asset. 

A mining excavator filling a dump truck.

Image source: Getty Images.

To be clear, this announcement doesn't say that the company has obtained the permit to mine. It is a draft permit that will have a public hearing in February. Only after that public hearing will the company get a final decision from the Department of Natural Resources.

Now what

This isn't a new story. Whenever a company that wants to operate a mine or anything else that requires government approval reaches a milestone, shares will jump.

Whether PolyMet will be able to bring this mine to fruition is sill open to question. The company went public in 2000 and has yet to deliver a business that generates revenue. Considering PolyMet's long-lasting struggles, it's probably best to wait until a mine is up and running before commiting any capital to this company. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.