- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Essar Steel Minnesota has less than a week to agree on a timeline to repay the state loans tied to its taconite plant project.

Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday informed company officials that they had until Dec. 30 to reach a repayment plan for nearly $66 million in state loans toward construction at the Nashwauk taconite plant site. Under Dayton’s offer, which state negotiators call final, the loan issued in 2008 would be repaid in full by the end of 2020.

The Mesabi Daily News (https://bit.ly/1Pm3VjH ) reported that the sides have been negotiating a timeline for months. Dayton has threatened to demand immediate repayment if the company didn’t meet certain conditions. The letter from his office Wednesday stressed that “timely payments are exceedingly important to the state.”

Essar has struggled to open a proposed $1.8 billion iron ore processing plant in northeastern Minnesota.

Essar Steel Minnesota’s president Madhu Vuppuluri said he expects a plan will be resolved “soon, very soon.”

In a statement, the company said Essar is working to finish repaying contractors and vendors for work they’ve performed.

Under the Dayton timeline, payments would start next March with installments totaling $10 million. The remaining $56 million would come in through 16 equal quarterly payments beginning March 31, 2017, and ending on Dec. 31, 2020. If Essar sells its ownership interest in the project, it would have to pay its remaining debt in full.

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Information from: Mesabi Daily News, https://www.virginiamn.com


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