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Minnesota Mine Hopes to Restart Taconite Project

Written by Sandy Williams

Mesabi Metallics, the former Essar Steel Minnesota, is seeking permission from the District of Delaware Bankruptcy Court to recommence construction activities on its taconite mine and processing plant in Nashwauk, MN. A court hearing is scheduled for April 5.

Earlier this month the court gave the company permission to renew labor agreements with construction workers and to enter into a “neutrality/card-check” agreement with United Steelworkers. The card check agreement gives the USW the authority to canvass workers about joining the union without interference by management.

Mesabi Metallics hopes to pull itself out of bankruptcy protection by paying off debt and restarting work on its half-finished taconite facility. The company plans to invest $800 million to finish the project.

The company continues to experience pushback from Governor Mark Dayton who has tentatively promised the mineral leases to Cliffs Natural Resources. Iron Range legislators, for the most part, are in favor of letting Mesabi Metallics retain the leases and move ahead with the project.

In a letter to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, seven Range legislators wrote that they were satisfied with the efforts being made by Mesabi Metallics to address concerns of state and local stakeholders and to pay debts due to local contractors and vendors. The legislators urged the DNR to award the leases to Mesabi Metallics.

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