Essar Steel in the news

March 30th, 2010

Essar Steel is in the news.  Thursday was the “public meeting” on the Supplemental EIS, with THREE DAYS NOTICE, and here are the handouts (whoever said they didn’t give us anything!):

March 25 – DNR Essar Public Meeting – Handouts

March 25 – DNR Essar Public Meeting – Presentation

Here’s the Supplemental EIS scoping document to review and comment on:

Essar – SEIS Preparation Notice

Comments should be sent to:

Bill Johnson

MN DNR, Division of Ecological Services

Box 25, 500 Lafayette Rd.

St. Paul, Minn., 55155


email to:

Here’s the poop from MPR:

Essar Steel postpones Nashwauk plant’s opening date

Hibbing, Minn. (AP) — Essar Steel Minnesota says production of a
low-grade iron ore that was scheduled to begin next year will now be
pushed back until 2012.

The company says it ran into delays in securing financing, though
Essar Steel officials have said they’re still committed to building the plant.

The facilities would produce taconite and iron-ore pellets. They would
create an estimated 500 jobs in Nashwauk.

State Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam, says he’s disappointed in the latest
delay. But he says he’s heartened that signs point to increased
taconite demand in coming years.

The company says it’s also considering modifications to the plant that
could increase production almost 60 percent. The Duluth News Tribune
says that would mean further delays for renewed environmental-impact

And from the Hibbing Daily Tribune:

Essar informational meeting draws crowd

By Kathryn Kohlhase
Hibbing Daily Tribune

NASHWAUK — Area residents are hungry for more information about the Essar Steel Minnesota LLC (ESML) project.
Around 80 people attended Thursday’s ESML informational meeting held at the Nashwauk-Keewatin High School.

The meeting was focused on the project’s recently announced modifications and the accompanying Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Many attended to get an update, while others had questions about the future of the project.

One of the residents living within the ESML right-to-mine area said many favor the project.

“The construction and mining jobs created will be great for the area,” he said. “But there is frustration that comes from the poor communication and missed time lines.”

Comments like these were directed to the comment box at the back of the room.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) SEIS Project Manager Bill Johnson explained the project’s modifications and the resulting SEIS process.

An EIS reviews a proposed project’s description, alternatives, and potential environmental, social and economic impacts, as well as possible mitigation for said impacts. Such reviews must be completed before permitting and construction can begin.

The DNR conducted an EIS process for the Essar project in conjunction with a federal environmental review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Both agencies completed the original EIS in August 2007.

Earlier this month, Essar officials announced a proposal to increase the mine’s annual pellet production from 4.1 to 6.5 million tons.

The change would not affect Essar’s DRI or steel plants, according to Essar Health, Safety and Environmental Director Kevin Kangas. However, the modifications require a supplement to Essar’s previously issued EIS.

Such supplements are required when project changes have the potential to create “significant adverse impacts,” when new information or circumstances come to light, or when the original EIS inadequately covered potential impacts, Johnson said.

The Essar project’s SEIS will reevaluate issues previously assessed in the original EIS, including: water quantity and quality, solid waste generation, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and mercury level impacts.

Many of these areas have already been reexamined by Essar officials and have been improved upon, Kangas said.

“When looking at an increase in production, we were able to fine tune some of our design and subsequently, our environmental impacts,” he said.

New issues in the SEIS include an emerging issue with wild rice in the area and potential impacts on climate change.

Sulfates produced by the Essar plant could have an effect on wild rice. This potential will be reviewed in the SEIS.

Issues related to climate change have evolved since the original EIS and therefore were not reviewed in the original document.

“We’re not assessing if it’s important or not …,” Johnson said. “We just want to identify the changes.”

In addition, greenhouse gas emissions will be reviewed more closely, as this is another issue that has evolved since the original SEIS, Johnson said.

Socioeconomic impacts of the program will also be assessed by the DNR.

“We want to look at jobs created and how that will affect the tax base,” Johnson said.

Essar’s proposed increase in production will not have an effect on the project’s construction time line or footprint, Kangas said. Since the modifications do not impact any additional wetlands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not required to issue a supplement like the DNR, making the DNR the responsible governmental unit.

The DNR’s supplement should be completed about a year from now, Johnson said. Completion of the document will not slow down construction of the Essar pellet plant.

The plant’s completion date was recently pushed back to 2012, with pellet production starting that year and steel production starting in 2015.

The public comment period for the SEIS will end April 12. Until then, written comments regarding the SEIS scope can be mailed to Bill Johnson, Division of Ecological Services, Box 25, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, Minn., 55155 or e-mailed to

Leave a Reply