More from Tom Clarke and his Efforts in Nashwauk

October 03, 2017 10:39 PM

Tom Clarke understands the importance of mining. After all, he's from the state of Virginia, which is dependent on coal mining. "Living in Appalachia, we're very much like the Range. When the mines close, stores close. The communities suffer."

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He's using that experience now as the new leader of the mine and proposed DRI facility in Nashwauk. He acknowledges the former Essar site still has a lot of moving parts.

"We learned a lot today. We learn a lot every day about it."

He and the team were on the Range on Monday, meeting with different leaders, and thanking them for their support. They also continue to work on lining up financing, as they plan on putting $1 billion dollars worth of new money into the project. 

They do have a commitment from a Chinese steelmaker for pellets from the pellet plant. Most of the raw material that China uses now to make steel, according to Clarke, is fines or sinters. "They want to start introducing pellets in the market to reduce air pollution. So I don't think it's going to produce any more steel in China, it's just going to produce environmentally friendly steel."

The same company has also agreed to invest $250 million dollars into the project. 

More pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, like paying contractors nearly $40 million dollars. 

"When you make bold statements like paying the mechanic lien-holders, bringing Kiewit on, bringing international banks in, I think people begin to realize it's going to happen. And momentum builds. That's what we're looking to do. And build that momentum to the finish line," Clarke told us.

According to the paperwork from the state, the plant must be shipping pellets by December of 2020.

The finish line, which also includes the DRI facility, is going to be part of the new era of steelmaking. "This isn't Essar's project. This isn't our project, or Cleveland-Cliffs' project. It's the community's project. The community must have this kind of project, to survive in the long-term, industrially," he added.


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