October 24, 2016

Update: Construction Slows at Essar Steel

By KBJR News 1

September 7, 2012 Updated Sep 7, 2012 at 10:23 PM CDT

Nashwauk, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Essar officials have decided to temporarily slow the construction of its 4.1 taconite pellet facility in Nashwauk.

Some workers said that they were told their shifts Friday, would be their last for awhile.

An Essar Steel spokesperson said the significant down turn in the current iron-ore and steel market is a factor for shutting work down.

Essar Steel Minnesota President and CEO, Madhu Vupplurri, said after careful consideration, Essar is re-aligning the construction activity in line with the timing of the supply of equipment and other suppies.

He said he expects the plant to go back to its full speed in a very short period of time with no change in the overall project construction schedule.

This is a big project on the Range.

Once its finished Essar Steel will be the largest steel producing operation in the region.

Construction is 50 percent complete and company officials have secured all the permits they need to operate the plant.

The goal was to produce 7 million tons of taconite a year.

Some construction workers at the site said they didn't know when they'd be back to resume work.

"I was just told that we were going to be laid off for a couple weeks, for a short time frame and they unfortunately had to lay a lot of hardworking guys off," Clay Witkofsky, a Superintendent at Hammerlund Construction said.

Nashwauk Mayor, William Hendricks, says he's confident the project will eventually move forward.

"I'm not afraid of this one bit," Mayor Hendricks said. "This is kind of the normal, every time the economy does something it dictates to the people what to do."

Iron-ore pellet production had been expected to begin this winter.

The steel pellet plant was to be operational, by June of 2013.

Essar Steel is the first new taconite plant to be built on the Range in more than 30 years.

By 2013 Essar officials predict the company will have committed $1.6 billion to this project.

Jennifer Walch
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