Mining Companies Announce Joint Marquette County Community Fund

Posted by on May 18, 2013

Mining Companies Announce Joint Marquette County Community Fund

Ishpeming, MI – May 17, 2013 – Cliffs Natural Resources and Rio Tinto Eagle Mine announced today they have completed an infrastructure transaction that will benefit both the community and the companies. A new multi-million dollar fund has been created to assist community-focused projects in Marquette County, MI while the companies will benefit by improved rail line access and transportation.

The newly created Cliffs/Rio Tinto Marquette County Community Fund will be financed by $4 million as the result of the agreement between Cliffs and Rio Tinto.  The fund, which was agreed upon in 2012, will begin taking grant requests in 2013.  The intent of the fund is to provide financial assistance to major community projects or programs that focus on education, youth, environment, health and community development.  The fund will look to support community based, long-term, legacy projects including bricks and mortar type endeavors. 

Through a three-way agreement between Cliffs, Rio Tinto and third-party rail line operator Mineral Range Inc., the LS&I Railroad gains a three-mile rail bypass near its Eagle Mills Yard.   Further, Cliffs, through the LS&I Railroad, has provided to Rio Tinto the right to reactivate a 1.8-mile rail right-of-way to the Humboldt Mill, which had previously been placed in the State of Michigan’s Rails to Trails program.   Mineral Range also receives the right-of-way for 12 miles of track from the Ishpeming rail yard to Humboldt Junction, previously owned by the LS&I Railroad.

 “We are very pleased to negotiate this agreement to provide improved rail transportation for LS&I and Rio Tinto and, as a result, help create a fund that will be able to support worthwhile community projects in Marquette County,”  said Dana Byrne, vice president of public and government affairs at Cliffs Natural Resources.  “While the financial benefits from this transaction could have been reserved by Cliffs and Rio Tinto, we see creation of this fund as an opportunity to work jointly to provide a very positive benefit for the citizens of Marquette County.”

“Partnerships are a vital asset to our community,” said Adam Burley, president of Rio Tinto Eagle Mine.  “Rio Tinto has a long history of supporting communities where we operate, and this partnership with Cliffs will provide new opportunity for projects that enhance the quality of life in Marquette County.”

The agreement stipulates that a Cliffs/Rio Tinto Marquette County Community Fund grant committee will make the decisions related to disbursement of the fund’s assets.  The committee will be made up of two members each from Cliffs and Rio Tinto.   Per the agreement, the committee is directed to endeavor to disburse all of the money in the fund within five years.

The fund’s committee will be formed in the near future.  Grant application guidelines and contact information will be posted on the Lake Superior Community Partnership’s website at