Company's plan to revive Essar Steel taconite plant has state's backing

This could mean hundreds of Iron Range jobs.

It appears the famously troubled Essar Steel plant project might finally start churning out iron ore soon. 

And it could mean a lot of jobs on Minnesota's Iron Range.

This weekend, Gov. Mark Dayton announced "the State's support" for a plan from a company called Chippewa Capital Partners to reboot the proposed taconite operation, which is in the town of Nashwauk. 

In an "Open Letter to People on the Iron Range," Dayton says the firm has made "very significant" progress in settling the bankruptcy obligations left by Essar – which lost the rights to finish the site last year when it failed to repay the state for huge loans.

Part of Chippewa Capital's plan to take over construction on the project includes paying back the contractors who were left hanging when it shut down. 

"They have committed to paying vendors the balance due them" through a $39.5 million compensation account, the governor's letter says.

Dayton says he has directed the DNR to inform the bankruptcy court – which has yet to issue final approval on Chippewa's proposal – that the plan has the state's backing. 

As the Duluth News Tribune notes, the plant could bring "hundreds of construction jobs and several hundred more permanent jobs." 

Under Chippewa's proposal, mining could get underway "by late 2019 or in 2020."

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