Though many doubted a shovel would ever turn, the dream of bringing steel-making to the Iron Range took a big step when ground was broken in September on a $1.6 billion project in Nashwauk.
The project involves a new iron ore mine, concentration and processing plants to turn taconite into direct-reduced iron, and an electric-arc steel plant (rather than a traditional blast furnace plant that consumes most taconite). The project is being undertaken by Essar Steel, the largest steel producer in western India, to gain better footing in the North American steel market.
The construction phase is expected to employ 2,000 workers, and once operational, Essar Steel Minnesota would employ nearly 500 people. Iron ore pellets would be produced within two years from the start of construction, and production of pellets and steel slabs is expected by the fifth or sixth year.
—Ronald A. Wirtz