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Sunday, April 04, 2004

Economic Development - Latest news on location of iron nugget plant

According to this story today in the Chicago Tribune, "Nugget of hope slipping away: Hard-pressed Silver Bay, Minn., has been home to a pilot project for processing iron ore, but the first large-scale plant appears headed to Indiana." Some quotes:

SILVER BAY, Minn. -- Ever since the Mesabi Nugget pilot plant first rumbled into production here last summer, people in this isolated Lake Superior town have been keeping their fingers crossed.

If the $30 million test facility's revolutionary iron-ore processing system worked out, they figured, the next step would be a commercial-scale plant--and perhaps a couple hundred new jobs for the chronically job-hungry region.

The test is now in its final months, and it's clear that the environmentally friendly, energy-efficient new technology is a home run. * * *

There's only one problem: It looks as if the first full-scale plant using the technology will be built in Indiana rather than here.

For Silver Bay, you might say, the new technology works too well.

Steel prices are soaring around the globe, and the Indiana steelmaker that's been a key backer of the pilot plant has decided it wants a full-scale plant fast. Unfortunately, the need for speed takes Silver Bay out of contention.

Because of strict regional clean-water rules, building a plant on the shore of Lake Superior involves a daunting permit process that can take two or three years. But Steel Dynamics Inc., based in Ft. Wayne, Ind., doesn't want to wait that long, especially since it figures that a permit to build in Indiana can clear its state regulators in about six months.

Read the article for much background. And a side-bar explains the nugget-making process.

Meanwhile, a story from the Two Harbor Minnesota News-Chronicle, dated April 1, 2004, reports: "Plans for Silver Bay nugget plant moving ahead: Draft EIS ready soon."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 4, 2004 09:37 AM
Posted to Indiana economic development