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Minnesota Executive Council approves leases for Chippewa

A road at the former Essar Steel Minnesota site leads to the pellet plant. (file / News Tribune)

Minnesota’s top elected officials on Monday approved changing the name on state mineral leases from the now-defunct Essar Steel Minnesota to Chippewa Capital Partners LLC.

The council approved, as expected, the deal negotiated by Gov. Mark Dayton’s office to allow the leases for iron ore deposits to go to Chippewa, one of the last major details settled before Chippewa emerged successfully from Essar’s bankruptcy last week.

The Executive Council consists of the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and state auditor.

The final bankruptcy settlement was approved June 13 in Delaware. The state leases are important because they cover about 30 percent of the iron ore at the proposed mine in Nashwauk. Chippewa is slated to pay back some of the bankrupt Essar’s debt, finish the idled taconite processing plant and build a hot briquette iron plant at the site within the next three years.

As reported last week by the News Tribune, Chippewa must meet several stipulations, including deadlines to secure financing, start construction, start production and to produce finished taconite concentrate and raw iron at the site, or the leases revert back to the state.