Gov. Mark Dayton met Monday morning with the chief executive of Essar Steel after the company missed an Oct. 1 deadline on a mill construction project and faces having to reimburse the state for $65.9 million in taxpayer-backed bonds.
Dayton and Essar president and CEO Madhu Vuppuluri met at the Eveleth offices of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. Also present were the company’s general counsel, Susan Fennessey, several other executives, and state lawmakers and other government officials from the area.
Essar Steel is a subsidiary of Mumbai, India-based Essar Global.
In 2007, the company promised to build a fully integrated iron ore-to-steel mill in Minnesota by Oct. 1, 2015. The state responded with $65.9 million in bonds and a $6 million line of credit.
The company later killed its plan to build a steel mill, shifting to plans to build a taconite plant that is now nearly finished. Company officials told Dayton the new plant would begin production of taconite pellets by the end of 2016.
Dayton’s spokesman said later Monday that company officials assured the governor they intend by the end of this month to make current payments owed to suppliers on the Iron Range. In terms of the money owed the state, company officials told Dayton they would review the state’s latest proposed repayment terms and respond within two weeks.
Essar Steel spokesman Mitch Brunfelt called the meeting productive. The company has promised 350 permanent jobs as part of the taconite plant.