Magnetation's Decision to Build Outside Minnesota Surprises Legislator

By KBJR News 1

June 13, 2012 Updated Jun 13, 2012 at 9:18 AM CST

Bovey, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - An Iron Range legislator says he was surprised to learn that the mineral processing company, Magnetation, eliminated Minnesota as a possible location for another plant site.

"I feel a little disappointed, since this company really got started because of a public, private partnership with Iron Range Resources," said State Rep. Tom Anzelc, "I want that partnership to continue."

Rep. Anzelc was an author of the permit legislation intended to speed up the land permitting process. The legislation was an effort to keep Magnetation's pellet plant in Minnesota.

However, Magnetation President, Matt Lehtinen, says it wasn't fast enough to meet the company's goal of having the plant operational by the year 2014.

"That's [the timeline] very important to us because most experts expect iron ore to crash right around that period of time," said Lehtinen, "So, if we're unsuccessful in that timeline we put our employment levels that we already have today at risk."

Lehtinen says that while the company's timeline played a role in their decision to build the plant out of state, there were many factors that contributed to the decsion.

"It came down to site specific factors like land, like infrastructure, as well as a timeline to acquire permits and build the plant on time," he said.

The company has focused their search on sites in Parkland, Wisconsin and Reynolds, Indiana. While Lehtinen says that the decision not to build the pellet plant in Minnesota is definite, he says that the new plant will still create jobs on the Iron Range.

Lehtenin says that 200 out of the 300 jobs created by the pellet plant would be at two new concentrate production plants in Minnesota. The iron ore concentrate produced at these plants would be shipped to the new pellet plant and turned into pellets.

Lehtinen said that the two concentrate plants would not be possible without the success of the out-of-state pellet plant.

"This pellet plant is creating at least 200 more jobs and significant investment in Minnesota," he said, "Without a pellet plant, without a fast time line, those jobs would not happen."

Company officials say they hope to make a decision on the site location before the end of the year.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.