Lourenco Goncalves had engineers and company executives laughing in their chairs at a mining conference Wednesday with his one-liners and brutally honest opinions of his competitors, but he said he’s deadly serious about trying to gain control of the former Essar Steel project in Nashwauk.
Goncalves, CEO of Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources, says his company’s is the only serious offer for the former Essar Steel Minnesota project that may go up for auction in a Delaware bankruptcy court next week.
Goncalves was speaking to the annual conference of the Minnesota chapter of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
He spent much of his speech outlining why his company has thrived over 170 years in business while also landing jabs at his global iron ore competitors, referring to the CEOs of iron ore giants BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Vale as “Larry, Moe and Curly.”
But Goncalves moved into his latest crusade — his effort to acquire the Essar site — and how he’s rallying support in Minnesota for his expansion effort. He said Cliffs offers the best hope to see the Nashwauk site reach its full potential as a producer of direct-reduced iron that can be used in electric arc steel mills that currently produce two-thirds of the steel made in the U.S.
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