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$700-million iron ore plant set for former E. Toledo industrial site

Cleveland-based company chooses area for its new iron processing facility

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    James Tuschman, center, board chairman of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, speaks during a press conference to announce that Cliffs Natural Resources (Cliffs) has selected the Port of Toledo and East Toledo's Ironville site as the location for the company's new Hot Briquette Iron processing facility, today.

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    Port of Toledo on the Maumee River.

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  • CTY-ironville23p-3

    The Ironville Dock in East Toledo on the Maumee River.

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A company that will employ at least 130 people making hot briquetted iron for the manufacture of steel in a $700 million development will locate on a vacant former industrial site in East Toledo, local economic development authorities announced today.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., headquartered in Cleveland, has selected for its new factory a site owned since 2008 by the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, the company said, ending months of closely guarded negotiations over site incentives.

James Tuschman, chairman of the Port Authority Board of Trustees, said the site was chosen because of the availability of land, rail and highway access, a port, natural gas, and water.

The operation will include construction of a tower in making the hot briquetted iron, which will be visible from downtown, followed by 100 ships annually bringing 2 million tons of raw materials and 16,000 rail cars and trucks a year carrying finished briquettes to plants in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

VIDEO: $700-million iron ore plant set for former E. Toledo industrial site

The company, which operates iron ore mines in Minnesota and Michigan, will construct a $700 million facility at the Ironville Terminal on Front Street.

The site is now 100 acres of vacant land, but at one time supported oil refineries and a residential development. The land is part of 180 acres straddling Front Street that the port authority developed at a cost of $18 million, according to Mr. Tuschman.

Some 1,200 construction jobs are expected to be involved over two years.

A news conference on the site this morning drew representatives of the port authority, the city of Toledo, JobsOhio, and Lucas County, along with an official of Midwest Terminal Inc., which will handle the shipping of the product.

“As with any company interested in locating or expanding here, our people came to the table nimble and ready to work with Cliffs. We are committed to continuing to work with this company to move the project forward,” said Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson. “Our economic development team and the Department of Public Utilities will continue to work with the company through the air and other permitting processes.”

The city of Toledo is expected to provide about 3.6 million gallons of water per day to the site, some of it treated for drinking quality, some of it recycled from the unpotable wash water used in treating city water, according to Ed Moore, director of public utilities for the city.

He said Cliffs will use the water to cool machinery, and will have to get a discharge permit. The company has not decided whether to discharge back into the river or into the city’s sanitary system.

The expansion includes a 30 percent tax incentive from the city over 10 years estimated at $1,046,654, and annual tax revenue of $315,000, city officials said.

Involved in bringing the project to fruition over the last few months were also Regional Growth Partnership, Ohio Rail Development Commission, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), who was the first to announce the economic development project this morning.

“A big Toledo welcome to Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources as it embarks on new corporate investment to serve the American steelmaking market,” Miss Kaptur said.

She credited Toledo’s “excellent distribution and transportation network” in helping Toledo successfully compete with other ports that were considered for the development.

Pete Gerken, president of the Lucas County Commission, said the development vindicates the region’s patience in bringing old industrial sites back into use, such as the former Jeep assembly plant that is now Overland Industrial Park.

Cliffs intends to break ground in early 2018, with the plant becoming operational in 2020.

Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., who did not attend the news conference, issued a statement that said the announcement marks a strategic milestone for Cliffs as it implements plans to be the sole producer of high-quality hot briquette iron (HBI) for the steel market in the Great Lakes region.

Mr. Goncalves met with Gov. John Kasich in Columbus on Tuesday to finalize the deal that includes $30 million in state incentives.

“JobsOhio has been working closely with them, helped bring this project to Toledo when it was at risk of going to another state and they’ve kept our office closely updated,” Kasich spokesman Jim Lynch said. “The governor was excited to have a chance to meet with the CEO and his senior team two days ago, congratulate them on their expansion and thank them for putting their trust in the Toledo workforce and Ohio.”

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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