The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) was the Responsible Governmental Unit (RGU) for conducting a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed Essar Steel Minnesota Modifications Project.
The proposed project consists of modifications to Essar's taconite mine and processing plant (previously approved and currently under construction) in Itasca County, near Nashwauk, Minnesota. The project would increase the production of taconite pellets from 3.8 million metric tons per year (mmtpy) of low flux taconite pellets to 6.5 mmtpy of high flux pellets, or 7.0 mmtpy of low flux taconite pellets. This will require the addition of a crusher/concentrator line, and the installation of a larger pellet furnace, to the project evaluated in the original Minnesota Steel Project EIS (June 2007). Essar is also proposing to decrease the length of the mine plan time period from 20 to 15 years.
Questions may be directed to Lisa Fay, SEIS Project Manager, at (651) 259-5110.
The MNDNR has determined the Final SEIS to be adequate pursuant to Minnesota Rules, part 4410.2800, subpart 4. This concludes the state environmental review process for the Essar Steel Minnesota Modifications Project.
The Notice of Amendment to the SEIS Scope as identified in the SEIS Final Preparation Notice was published pursuant to Minnesota Rules part 4410.2100, subpart 8, which in part requires a notice to be published if "substantial new information arises relating to the proposed project that significantly affects the potential environmental effects of the proposed project or the availability of prudent and feasible alternatives to the project."
Since close of the public comment period on the Draft SEIS, the project proposer submitted new information regarding a change to the project and a new project alternative. The project change consists of removal of a wastewater treatment system previously proposed as part of pellet plant operations. The new project alternative consists of a reduction in capacity of Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) and steelmaking to 1.8 mmtpy and 1.5 mmtpy, respectively, and the addition of a haul truck. Other aspects of the new alternative are the same as the Essar Steel Minnesota Modifications (ESMM) project evaluated in the Draft SEIS.
The MNDNR released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for public comment December 12, 2011. The Final SEIS addressed changes to the Draft SEIS in response to comments received, potential environmental impacts from a new project alternative, a modification of the project evaluated in the Draft SEIS, and implementation of Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to reduce air pollutant emissions. The document also identified mitigation for adverse effects and responded to all comments received during the Draft SEIS public comment period.
The MNDNR invited comments on the Final SEIS during the public comment period that concluded December 27, 2011 at 4:30 PM. Comments were to address the adequacy of the Final SEIS.
The MNDNR prepared the Draft SEIS to disclose potential environmental and socioeconomic effects stemming from the project. The Draft SEIS was released for public comment May 2, 2011, and comments were invited through close of the comment period June 8, 2011.
The MNDNR held a public information meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, beginning at 6:30 PM, at the Nashwauk-Keewatin High School, 400 Second Street, Nashwauk, Minnesota 55769.