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State, federal governments accept EIS: Issue permits for Minnesota Steel
St. Paul, MN—The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have accepted findings of Minnesota Steel’s environmental impact statement and issued wetlands and water quality permits for the $1.6 billion iron ore mining, processing and steelmaking facility planned for Nashwauk.
Minnesota Steel will be the first steelmaking facility ever on Minnesota’s famed Iron Range, which for generations has sent iron ore to be made into steel out-of-state.
The environmental impact statement (EIS) contains exhaustive research on the potential environmental impacts of the proposed facility. Findings served as the basis for the of air, water and wetland and mining permits.
“Minnesota Steel has worked diligently to ensure that our facility will reflect our commitment to being good environmental stewards,” said Joseph C. Bennett, chairman of Minnesota Steel’s board of directors. “That commitment is reflected in the thorough research and findings contained in the EIS.”
Minnesota Steel will be the first facility in North America to integrate iron ore mining and processing and steelmaking on one site—a first that carries significant environmental benefits, including a 30% energy savings.
DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten signed the “adequacy decision,” a formal acceptance of the EIS, on Aug. 10; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed its “record of decision” on August 30. The EIS and its supporting documentation make a stack of paper four inches high.
“Since this process began several years ago, Minnesota Steel has dedicated the human and financial resources necessary to ensure that all environmental questions about our project are resolved,” said John C. Elmore, president and CEO. “We have worked cooperatively with federal and state agencies and with stakeholders to ensure that our facility will meet or beat all applicable environmental standards.”
The resources. The technology. The future of steel.
The environmental review process includes several steps that offered opportunity for public comment. A Scoping Environmental Assessment Worksheet to outline the EIS content was developed in June 2005 and approved in the fall of 2005. An independent contractor hired by the DNR began developing the EIS in February 2006, and a public meeting was held in March.
“The EIS is a very comprehensive analysis of all the potential impacts and possible ways to minimize them,” said Debra McGovern, Minnesota Steel’s director of environmental and regulatory affairs.
“Minnesota Steel will meet or do better than the stringent environmental requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Minnesota,” McGovern said. “In so doing, Minnesota Steel will be the cleanest steelmaking facility in the world.”
An air quality permit remains to be issued before the facility can begin construction; the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Citizens’ Board is expected to vote on the permit Friday.
Construction will employ 2,000 skilled workers for two years. Minnesota Steel will employ 700 full-time workers and generate 2,100 spin-off jobs with a combined annual payroll of $160 million. The project also will pay $18 million annually in royalties and taxes to state and local governments.
Acceptance of the EIS and issuance of several major permits represent a major milestone for the project, which has been in the planning stages since 2004. Other milestones include:
April 18, 2007: Minnesota Steel and Essar Global Limited of India announced an agreement for Essar to acquire the company. Just prior to that announcement, Essar executed an agreement to acquire Algoma Steel Canada.
December 2006: The State of Minnesota approved its largest ever land exchange, a 7,000-acre swap among the state, Itasca County and UPM-Blandin to give Minnesota Steel sufficient land for its facility.
December 2006: Minnesota Steel secured a 15-year agreement for capacity to transport low-cost natural gas from Alberta, Canada, via the Great Lakes Gas Transmission Co., which ensures that transmission costs will be up to 70% lower than costs associated with other transmission zones.
In addition, Minnesota Steel secured rights to mine the ore body, validated the quality of the ore, made and tested the quality of pellets, and used third parties to validate the accuracy and viability of all cost models, mine engineering plans and operating procedures. An independent market overview and demand analysis confirmed the soundness of Minnesota Steel’s business model.
For additional information, contact John Elmore at 651-209-7707.
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