Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Toledo Plan Commission gives OK to iron-processing plant

The Toledo City Plan Commission approved a procedural step Thursday toward construction of a $700 million iron-processing plant on a former refinery site on the Toledo-Oregon border.

By a 4-0 vote, the commission approved a factory site plan submitted by IronUnits, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cliffs Natural Resources, albeit with dozens of mostly technical conditions related to roadway access, utilities, landscaping, and other details about the project.

As part of its action, the commission approved waivers of two sections of city ordinances governing visual screening or landscaping and the placement of stormwater detention ponds.

Placement of those features remains subject to administrative approval by the city. Numerous other permits and plan reviews are required for the project.

But overall, the commission agreed, the project complies with Toledo’s city ordinances and zoning code and is allowed in the general industrial zone that applies to the area.

The plant will refine iron ore into hot-briquetted iron, a raw material used by electric-arc steel mills to produce steel.

Cliffs officials said when they announced the project last summer that they expected to break ground early this year and begin production in 2020, and company representatives at the zoning meeting Thursday said that schedule remains on target. Earth moving that has already occurred on the site has strictly been stockpiling of dirt brought in from excavations elsewhere, they said.

The plant is expected to employ 120 to 130 employees with salaries ranging between $40,000 and $140,000 and generate between 100 and 120 annual ship calls hauling ore pellets from Cliffs-owned mines in Minnesota and Michigan to Toledo. A conveyor is to be built to carry the ore from ships docked on the Maumee River to the plant on the inland side of Front Street south of Millard Avenue. The plant’s production is expected to travel to steel mills in trains and trucks.

Among the site-plan approval conditions is that plant developers continue to work with city officials on construction of a proposed roundabout at Millard and Tiffin avenues, the intersection at which the plant’s main entrance is proposed.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094. 

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