MN Lawmakers Fight For Magnetation Plant

By KBJR News 1

February 6, 2012 Updated Feb 6, 2012 at 7:12 PM CDT

Grand Rapids, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - That idea is not sitting well with Iron Range law makers, as they now move to do what it takes to keep the expansion of the Minnesota company on the range.

"I am not happy about it. We invested a lot into them, and where is the loyalty?" said Rep. Carly Melin.

DFL lawmakers say they were quite taken aback when they heard the news of Magnetation's interest in the site outside of Superior.

"A company that started on the Mesabi, started with our subsidies, started with participation from IRRB; we think it's only fair that any further development occur on the range where it belongs," said Rep. Tom Anzelc.

One of the newest developments is a plan for a pellet plant to separate iron ore content from leftover tailings that are the by-product of taconite mining.

Magnetation officials say nothing is official yet, and they are talking with leaders from both Minnesota and Wisconsin, among other states, to see where the best site would be.

"What's critical to us is to have the plant operating by 2015 and have permits by the end of this year and have begun construction this year. The reason that's important is because for our company to be successful long term, we have to be able to produce something more than concentrate," said Matt Lehtinen, vice president of Magnetation.

Magnetation has yet to apply for permits in Minnesota, and lawmakers want to make sure when they do, they are able to get them.

"I have arranged a meeting for the Iron Range delegation with the permitting agencies to discuss and get out on the table what the barriers are to having Magnetation build this taconite pellet plant in Itasca County on the Mesabi where it belongs," said Rep. Anzelc.

With discussions on going in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, Magnetation says it will all come down to timing.

"All things being equal we are from Minnesota, our operations are in Minnesota, there is a lot of strong reasons for us to put the plant in Minnesota if we can meet the deadline set out in front of us," said Lehtinen.

The meeting between law makers and agency officials will take place in St. Paul this Wednesday.

Lehtinen says no matter what state the plant is built in, the company will comply with all environmental standards.

Written for the web by Elayne Crecelius
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