The father-son team who used to run Magnetation has formed a company and purchased the assets of a defunct Scully ore mine in eastern Canada.
Cargill will buy 100 percent of the mine’s iron ore under a five-year contract with the new firm, Tacora Resources, the new company said this week.
Larry Lehtinen, founder of the now defunct iron-ore mining company Magnetation on the Iron Range, and his son and former company President Matt Lehtinen, formed Tacora in January in Grand Rapids, Minn., and purchased “substantially all of the assets of the Scully mine located in Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada,” the firm said.
Terms were not disclosed.
The closing of the deal finalizes the written purchase agreement Tacora executed June 2, with Wabush Iron Co. Limited; Wabush Resources Inc.; and Wabush Lake Railway Company. The process was overseen by a Canadian court which deals with creditor issues.
The Scully mining property was shut in 2014 by the former parent company, Cliffs Natural Resources, which cited high production costs and low taconite prices. The shutdown displaced about 400 workers.
About 250 workers will soon be hired to restart and run the Scully mine and plant, Mike Twite, Tacora’s environment and government affairs manager, said in an e-mail. When fully operational, the facility is expected to produce about 6 million metric tons of finished iron-ore concentrate a year.
In a statement Wednesday, Matt Lehtinen said that the effort to restart the Scully mine required Tacora to work closely not only with the government of the Newfoundland and Labrador province, but also with the United Steelworkers. A new collective-bargaining agreement with the United Steelworks is now in place.
Matt Lehtinen noted that the Scully mining region “has a rich tradition in iron ore mining, and with the continued support of all stakeholders, the people of Labrador West can look forward to seeing Scully’s valued iron reserves come back into production.”
Graham Letto, a member of the House of Assembly for Labrador West, said he worked with Canada’s natural resources and municipal affairs and environment departments to find a new owner for the Wabush Mines facility.
“I am very pleased that Tacora has made significant progress in reaching an agreement to purchase the assets of the Scully mine and I will continue to provide my support to their efforts to reopen the mine and provide employment to the people of Wabush and Labrador West,” he said.
The venture, which is backed by Tacora and its Minneapolis private equity firm, Proterra Investment Partners, gives the former founders of Magnetation a new project in a well-known field.
Magnetation converted iron ore waste tailings on Minnesota’s Iron Range into usable ore that was then sold to steel making companies.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. ERP Iron Ore LLC bought that operation out of bankruptcy in February and has restarted ore processing at Magnetation’s former Grand Rapids, Minn., and Reynolds, Ind., facilities.