ESSAR Pours First Foundations

By KBJR News 1

October 28, 2010 Updated Oct 28, 2010 at 9:13 AM CDT

Cement was poured for the foundations of the first buildings for the new pellet plant and steel mill.

Elected officials, company leaders and workers all had a hand in the ceremony.

The weather was not a match at Wednesday's event.

"But we can say that the light of progress is shining brightly on this project today."

Two years after the official ground breaking of the new pellet plant and steel mill in Nashwauk, the coconuts were back as company and elected officials broke them in celebration.

"This is the first concrete pour for the building foundation. Which paves the way, if you will; we starting buildings, next comes structural steel, the lighting of the plant, and the actual operations of the plant," said Project Director Steve Rutherford.

A plant that will cut out the middle man in the steel making process.
In stead of bringing the pellets to the Twin Ports to be shipped down to blast furnaces, the pellets will be on sight for the steel mill.

"If you look at all the old time miners up here that have been in the mines for years, and years, and years, it was always 'build a steel mill, why do we do this? Ship it down there? Why don't we have a steel mill?'," said Rutherford.

Another benefit to having the pellet and steel mill are the measures that have been taken to ensure the plant is as eco friendly as possible

"For the project, the environmental control equipment that we're installing will be state of the art; best available control for particulate, and sulfur dioxide and mercury emission controls," said Kevin Kangas, the Health, Safety, and Environmental Director at ESSAR Steel.

For a project that just celebrated its third year of operation, Wednesday's event was the perfect birthday present.

During the construction process the plant is expected to generate almost 2,000 jobs.

Once up and running ESSAR says the steel mill alone will generate about 500 jobs.