ST. PAUL, Minn.- Gov. Mark Dayton recently gave the go ahead for Chippewa Capital Partners to redevelop a bankrupt iron mining project in the Minnesota Iron Range.
In the recent months since the bankruptcy of Essar Steel, also known as Mesabi Metallics, the Chippewa Capital Partners have produced a plan to not only redevelop the project Essar was working on, but also recoup the losses incurred by Minnesota contractors from the bankruptcy.
Dayton’s support for Chippewa is critical as it was Dayton’s revocation of Essar’s mineral rights which sealed the coffin for the then bankrupt company, who repeatedly missed the deadlines for permits and payments set by the state.
Chippewa intends to reopen Essar’s half finished facility and produce 7 million tons of iron ore annually.
Half of the iron produced by Chippewa would be of the high grade, “direct reduced iron,” which is easier to convert to steel. The plant is expected to produce around 700 construction and some 350-450 full time jobs for plant operations.
In addition to Dayton’s support for Chippewa, Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN6), introduced the MINER Act on October 3. The act states that any federal action to remove land from mining usage within Minnesota, must be done with Congressional approval. The act also provides significant protection for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or Mine Protection Area, requiring environmental review of any leases within these designated areas.
The bill has been cosponsored by two other Minnesota representatives, Colin Peterson (D-MN7) and Jason Lewis (R-MN2).
“I am proud to introduce the MINER Act, which will allow mining as long as it meets strict environmental requirements, so that we can advance our state and local economies while protecting Minnesota’s beauty for future generations,” Emmer said in a press release.
However, not all Minnesota politicians were as favorably disposed to the legislation, including Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN4).
“Congressman Emmer’s bill is an all-out attack on our nation’s most visited wilderness,” McCollum said in a press release. She went on to claim that the legislation does not effectively protect the Boundary Waters.