Cleveland-Cliffs’ CEO says an iron ore mine in northern Minnesota will close within a few years if it doesn’t get mineral rights from a nearby project that hasn’t been completed.
Hibbing Taconite, owned by Cleveland-Cliffs, is expected to run out of iron ore around 2025. Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves said Thursday that his company needs the rights to the Mesabi Metalex project to continue operations, the Star Tribune reported.
The state of Minnesota terminated Mesabi Metalx’s mineral rights after the company missed a deadline for a $200 million down payment to shut down a taconite plant near Nashik. The State intends to reassign the lease.
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If Cleveland-Cliffs secures the lease, operations at the Hibbing mine would be extended by about 27 years, Goncalves said.
“I believe we’re getting closer,” Goncalves said at a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce event in Minneapolis. “I believe we are one step away from a Supreme Court decision.”
Mesabi Metallics has asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to review a state appeals court decision that upheld the termination of the company’s lease. If the Supreme Court declines to take the case, the state Department of Natural Resources will reassign the lease. US Steel has also expressed interest.
The DNR said it has not decided how it will dispose of the Nishwak ore.
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In an interview with reporters after his speech, Goncalves said, “If the Minnesota Supreme Court doesn’t take the case — we expect it will — I believe the next thing is to finalize an agreement with the DNR. Will sit down to give… If they bid, I’m not going to bid either. So whoever wins, I don’t leave a rat behind.”
Any winning bidder would just tie up the land and its minerals and do nothing with them, he said.
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Hibbing Taconite, an economic anchor in Minnesota’s Iron Range, employs 750 people.