Workers pulled off Essar site; more financing woes

Iron Range newsWDIO reports that union officials say many workers are being pulled off the Essar Steel Minnesota site near Nashwauk, Minnesota, as the company continues to search for financing to finish the long-awaited project. Rumors that contractors are owed large sums of money seem to be confirmed with news that many workers are not reporting for duty today.

The problem was and remains the fact that this very expensive project is being built with international financing by a large but relatively young company. Essar, which is in the process of building projects all over the world, finds itself spread too thin to lock down the hundreds of millions needed to finish the Nashwauk taconite plant. Company officials continue to reassure the public that the project will be built in time to produce taconite early in 2015, but news like this continue to complicate the story.

The original Essar Steel project plan was for a combined taconite and steel-producing facility. Hopes of forging steel on the Mesabi Iron Range for the first time fell apart two years ago, when Essar scaled back its plans due to the large expense of building a steel mill. Other region steel projects remain on the distant horizon, as I wrote earlier, but it’s hard to imagine them getting the traction that Essar once had, having received tens of millions of dollars of state infrastructure aid.

With almost $100 million owed to the Iron Range and state of Minnesota, the drumbeat for Essar to deliver will only grow louder in coming weeks.


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