Cleveland-Cliffs is Pursuing State Mineral Leases

Updated: February 01, 2018 07:00 PM

The CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs said the company is pursuing the state mineral leases in Nashwauk. Lourenco Goncalves told Range leaders and business owners that on Thursday, at the State of the Company luncheon in Eveleth.

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He said they submitted a letter to the DNR that morning, asking to negotiate terms for the state's mineral leases. "I can get two different answers. Yes, or no. And if I get a no, I will still mine my land," he added. "All I need is a permit. We are working on a pre-feasibility study for a mine plan."

Cliffs worked on a map that outlines the land and mineral rights they have acquired in Nashwauk, and he showed it to the crowd. "I need that ore."

Hibbing Taconite is running out of mine life. The ore in Nashwauk could be brought there. Or Cliffs could also bring over ore from Michigan, where they own the Empire and Tilden mines. "I'm not going to let Hibbing go away," Goncalves told the room.

Competing company Chippewa Capital Partners and Tom Clarke are hoping to have the state mineral leases re-instated to them, once they meet certain conditions set by Governor Mark Dayton and the DNR. Chippewa controls a large amount of surface rights in Nashwauk, but no mineral rights, according to the DNR.

As for the other highlights of the 2017, Goncalves emphasized their Project Mustang, which began operating in May. Cliffs also secured all $700 million they need for their HBI plant planned for Toledo. "We got all the money in half a day," he and the CFO said.

The upgrade at Northshore, which will entail $80 million dollars, is in the works. Construction will ramp up this spring. The project means the plant can produce more DR grade pellets. Some will feed the HBI plant, and some will go to customers.

Goncalves assured the room, that everything he does is for the future of Cliffs. "I told the people at Northshore, I want to hire your sons and daughters, and grandsons and granddaughters."

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