DNR wants to lease state ore near Nashwauk to Cleveland-Cliffs

It’s the news that Cleveland-Cliffs has been waiting for, for years.

The DNR has announced that they will ask the State Executive Council to approve new leases for state ore with Cleveland-Cliffs.

In a statement, the DNR said:

After careful consideration of multiple requests to lease the state ore near Nashwauk, the DNR has concluded that it is in the best interest of the State to enter into leases with Cleveland Cliffs. Cleveland Cliffs has a proven record of bringing mining projects into operation and currently holds a significant land position adjacent to the state ore in the area. Leasing this state ore to Cleveland Cliffs will provide local communities, K-12 public schools and other beneficiaries a long overdue source of mineral revenue. Cleveland Cliffs has stated that, if the leases are approved, it intends to utilize the state ore to extend the life of Hibbing Taconite and that it would immediately begin the work needed to bring the ore into production.”

The agency had terminated the leases with Mesabi Metallics, and then the company brought that decision to court.

In January, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied a review of the case.

Cliffs’ CEO Lourenco Goncalves has been vocal about wanting to use the ore in Nashwauk to keep Hibbing Taconite open. The mine is running out of mine life.

Cleveland-Cliffs and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have reached an agreement on a package of State iron ore mineral leases at the Nashwauk mine site for review by the Minnesota Executive Council on May 25. I thank Governor Walz for his support and the great work of his Department of Natural Resources. We would not be at this very place without Governor Walz’s leadership and the great work of the Minnesota DNR professionals. When approved by the MN Executive Council, the leases will be used to provide a long-term extension of Hibbing Taconite’s mine life, securing the future of Hibbing Taconite and the good-paying, union jobs at HibTac, our flagship operation in Minnesota. I look forward to the Minnesota Executive Council’s review and approval of this lease package on May 25.” 

Lourenco Goncalves, CEO, Cleveland-Cliffs

The president of Local 2705, Chris Johnson, said, “This is a giant step forward. There’s a lot of people who have smiles on their faces who haven’t had smiles. They have been worried, and wondering if they should be filling out resumes. This gives us the opportunity to have a career and retire from Hibbing Taconite.”

This proposal from the DNR will come before the State Executive Council at their May 25th meeting.