Clarke ready to move Mesabi Metallics forward – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – January 22, 2018)

NASHWAUK — Tom Clarke leaned forward in a squeaky office chair in a drafty construction-site trailer, pulled out his phone and touched an app that exposed a countdown clock that flashed 171 days, 6 hours, 36 minutes and 28 seconds.

“That’s how much time we have to get this moving. I show it to everyone who is working on this project,” Clarke said earlier this month. “But we’re going to get there before that date.”

The zero hour on that clock is the June 30 deadline for Clarke’s Chippewa Capital Partners to have money in the bank, contractors on site and construction advancing full-speed on the Mesabi Metallics combined taconite mine, processing center and iron plant.

If Clarke’s Chippewa Capital Partners isn’t moving by then, Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources say they won’t hand over mineral leases to Clarke that cover much of the valuable taconite iron ore that sits under the Mesabi Metallics site here.

“We don’t get the leases back until we prove we’re on the way,” Clarke said in an interview with the News Tribune at the half-built Mesabi Metallics site earlier this month. Clarke doesn’t seem worried.

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