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Bankruptcy judge approves sale of several former Magnetation plants

A newly-formed company hoping to extract ore from waste rock stockpiles inches closer to reviving the bankruptcy-ridden property.

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Final product is carried by a conveyor belt in the former Magnetation Plant 2, which was owned by ERP until the company filed for bankruptcy in 2018. A recently-formed company has placed bids in bankruptcy court on some of ERP's former facilities. (2014 file / News Tribune)
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A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved the sale of several former Magnetation and ERP Iron Ore facilities to Prairie River Minerals — a newly-formed company that hopes to extract ores from waste rock stockpiles to produce marketable iron .

Judge William J. Fisher on Thursday signed an order approving the company's purchase of Plant 1 in Keewatin and the Jessie Load-Out facility near Grand Rapids to Prairie River Minerals for $1.95 million after several objections to the sale were resolved.

While a bankruptcy trustee earlier this month also approved the sale of Plant 2 to MJM Minerals, the hearing in front of a judge for that sale has been delayed until Wednesday.

Under Magnetation, Plants 1, 2 and 4 and the Jessie Load-out facility employed more than 500 people at its peak in 2014, but closed shortly after and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015 as iron ore prices plummeted.

Magnetation was sold to Tom Clarke, an entrepreneur from the state of Virginia, in 2016. Clarke pulled it out from bankruptcy as ERP Iron Ore before it also filed for bankruptcy in July 2018.

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The project would employ 70 people in trucking and another 37 workers and contractors in mining operations, a non-binding letter of intent filed last month by the Prairie River Mineral's attorney said.

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