Cliffs CEO details DRI hopes, swipes at Essar

Cliffs Natural Resources

Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Lourenco Goncalves spoke yesterday morning at the company’s annual community breakfast in Virginia, Minnesota. WDIO was there:

To stay strong in the steel industry, the company is very seriously considering making DRI grade pellets, which have a higher iron content.

Northshore Mining has already tested this possibility.

“We are working on three projects right now, that are very green, but will mature fast,” Goncalves said. When we asked if it meant more jobs at either Northshore and United Taconite, he said that is possible.

And, in keeping with Goncalves public criticism of the publicly-funded Essar Steel project in Nashwauk, he took a swipe at the company’s pending liability to pay back money it was given to build a steel mill with its mining operation. The company now says it won’t build a steel mill, just a taconite plant similar to others across the Iron Range, including three operated by Cliffs.

“You promise one thing, you plan one thing, and it goes completely off track. And it becomes a big disaster and disappointment,” Goncalves told the group. He also said if he faced the situation of a $67 million dollar loan due, that he would pay it. That’s in reference to Essar and their request to have a deadline for the $67 million dollar state loan pushed back. “That’s what honest people do, pay what they owe.”

Goncalves also thanked the state for not trying to back out of its 50-year-old agreement to relocate Highway 53 between Eveleth and Virginia to accommodate mining activity. MNDOT says this will require a bridge that costs up to $240 million. Goncalves said “there are those in this world” who would have tried to wiggle out of the agreement.

Call me a cynic, but I think that’s corporate speak for “I can’t believe you guys are really going to pay.” Anyway, he said thank you. That’s something.

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