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Minnesota company to launch iron ore plant in Indiana

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A Minnesota company plans to invest up to $350 million in Indiana to build a plant that will produce iron ore pellets used in the production of steel.

Magnetation LLC of Grand Rapids, Minn., will build its plant at the site of an abandoned VeraSun Energy Corp. ethanol plant in Reynolds, about 30 miles north of Lafayette. Work to demolish existing infrastructures has already begun.

Magnetation President Matt Lehtinen told The Journal & Courier the company has secured its financing and expects to pour its first foundation early this month. The plant is expected to begin operating in late 2014.

The plant is expected to bring 115 jobs by the summer of 2014 but currently has 25 employees.

Lehtinen says the project has energized the White County community, which saw a plan by former Gov. Mitch Daniels to turn Reynolds into a hub of bioenergy fizzle out.

Daniels in 2005 dubbed Reynolds BioTown USA and pledged to make the farming community the first U.S. community to meet all electricity and gas needs through renewable energy. Progress has been slow and has been hampered by changes in market conditions and financial problems among some developers.

"We're actually amazed by the enthusiasm and the work ethic of all the various stakeholders and contractors involved," Lehtinen said. "(The community) has been very welcoming and (the process) relatively painless, if you will."

White County Commissioner John Heimlich said many people have expressed interest in the new venture and the jobs it will bring.

"A lot of people are talking about it," Heimlich said.

The iron ore pellets produced at the plant will be shipped to Ohio-based manufacturer AK Steel, which has invested about $200 million in Magnetation LLC.

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