Cleveland-Cliffs CEO: Not Partnering with Mesabi, Ever

Renee Passal
Updated: September 14, 2018 10:31 PM

Lourenco Goncalves is focused on the Cleveland-Cliffs property in Nashwauk. But the CEO doesn't want anything to do with the half-built Mesabi Metallics project.

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"I'm not going to buy that thing. That thing is scrap. If I build something, it's going to be brand new," Goncalves said. "Just because I have the money, doesn't mean I will give it to those folks. They already stole enough from Minnesota."

He told the press that Essar came to him years ago, asking him to buy their project. News broke this week that Essar is back in the picture as a potential investor, along with Mercuria Energy. Goncalves said he wasn't surprised to hear that at all.

Cliffs showed the press a new map, where Cliffs' property or mineral rights are shown in yellow. Goncalves is suing the DNR, because he wants his land extracted from the permit to mine held by Mesabi Metallics. Still, there is progress on his property. "I was surprised, that yesterday, the DNR gave approval for us to start sampling on our land. We are going to start building a work road, and start sampling," he told us.

In a perfect world, he said he would mine first, then build an HBI plant and then a pellet plant in Nashwauk. The first HBI plant for Cliffs is being built in Toledo. "It could have been built here," he emphasized.

Ore from Nashwauk could be used to feed Hibbing Taconite, which is facing the end of its mine life. But the CEO is very clear on that point, too. "Come hell or high water, Hibtac will be taken care of. There's no drama there," Goncalves said.

He also praised the steelworkers, calling them partners, not enemies. "They are asking for a few things, and we feel they deserve them, and we are going to cut a deal." Goncalves was referring to the labor talks which have begun. Cliffs' contract expires October 1.

The investment in Northshore Mining is going well, with a milestone to be completed soon. He called it the tie-in, which is the joining of the old and new equipment. 

Goncalves also met with Republican candidate for Governor, Jeff Johnson. He said Governor Dayton and other lawmakers have not done their jobs when it comes to advocating for more jobs for the Range. "Every time I hear that, I get fired up again," he added. 


Renee Passal

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