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Mesabi Metallics CEO says reports of his removal are false

Tom Clarke

Despite rumors to the contrary, Tom Clarke said Wednesday he is still very much CEO of Chippewa Capital Partners, the parent company of Mesabi Metallics.

The Mesabi Daily News and KBJR-TV reported Wednesday afternoon that Clarke was removed from his role with the companies based on a letter the outlets said was sent to Itasca County officials earlier Wednesday. Mesabi Daily News in its story cited "sources made aware of the email."

In a telephone interview with the News Tribune Wednesday evening, Clarke said those claims were wrong. He addressed the rumors with a quote often attributed to Mark Twain.

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," Clarke said.

Clarke, who was in Itasca County on Wednesday meeting with county officials about unresolved mechanic's liens, said he still maintains the role of CEO and sole director of Chippewa and Mesabi Metallics, but also has the title of chairman of the board after he removed two other board members over the weekend.

Clarke said an email sent to Mesabi Metallics employees by one of those former board members, John Oram, was the source of the misinformation.

Clarke said he removed Oram and Gary Heasley of Nubai Global Investment from the board after the group only paid a portion of the $250 million payment due in April.

Although $160 million was paid, Clarke said, $90 million has yet to be paid.

Clarke said that letter was circulated among Mesabi Metallics, too.

That $250-million funding commitment is for day-to-day operations — not for the project's funding, Clarke said.

Through Mesabi Metallics, Clarke is planning to finish a taconite mine and processing center and also build an iron plant on the Nashwauk site Essar Steel Minnesota left several years ago. Earlier this month, the company met its final financing requirements to get mineral leases reinstated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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