The Minnesota Court of Appeals said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource did not err in its May 2021 decision to terminate Mesabi Metallics' leases after the company failed to meet a last-chance requirement set by the state agency after years of missed lease requirements and deadlines. The three-judge panel backed a judge's January decision in State District Court in St Paul that also upheld the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's decision but was appealed by the company.Judge Jeanne Cochran wrote in the opinion “Because Mesabi failed to satisfy the condition precedent in the 2020 amendment requiring Mesabi to have USD 200 million advanced to it and deposited in its corporate bank account in the United States by 1 May 2021, the 2020 amendment did not become effective and DNR was authorized to terminate the leases the district court did not err by determining that DNR’s termination of the leases was effective, and it properly granted judgment on the pleadings for DNR on all claims.”Mesabi Metallics, former Essar Steel Minnesota, said that while it respects the decision of the Court of Appeals, it reiterated its argument that the DNR's lease termination was premature and that the lower court did not allow for all relevant facts and circumstances to be property investigated. The company also said it is still moving the project forward, noting the DNR-controlled leases represent 39% of the site. Mesabi Metallics President & Chief Operating Officer Mr Larry Sutherland said “Notwithstanding today’s developments, Mesabi Metallics remains absolutely committed to the Nashwauk mine and pellet facility.”Minnesota Department of Natural Resource pulled the company's leases after it only made half of the required USD 200 million available by 1 May 2021, blaming the COVID-19 crisis in India, where its funder Essar Global is based, for the shortcoming. The Nashwauk project, announced in 2003, has languished for years as its backers have repeatedly run into financial problems. Essar Steel Minnesota started building the Nashwauk plant in earnest in 2011 with a planned 2013 completion date. But the project was never finished, contractors ended up with unpaid bills and the company failed to reimburse the state for about USD 65 million in infrastructure improvements for the projectMesabi Metallics' state mineral leases are much coveted by other companies. Cleveland-Cliffs, the largest player on Minnesota's Iron Range, has long sought them. US Steel, the Range's other dominant iron ore player, also has shown interest. The DNR plans to put the leases back on the market. However, that process would likely be delayed if the state's high court decided to hear an appeal from Mesabi — or if the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.