Sweetwater Energy plans to build an approximately $52.8 million biomass-to-biochemical facility on 52-acres off US 169 in Mountain Iron, Minnesota.
According to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, “the facility will use Sweetwater’s patented biomass processing technology, which splits Minnesota’s local timber and waste wood into its constituent components quickly without producing harmful byproduct chemicals. Those components then become the building blocks of many types of biochemicals used throughout the world.”
“This project places northeastern Minnesota into the leading edge of the growing green biotechnology industry,” said Mark Phillips, IRRRB Commissioner. “It’s an innovative process that makes use of our region’s natural resources, creates new well-paying jobs, and helps diversify the region’s economy.”
“We can’t say enough about how thrilled we are to work with the great people in Minnesota,” said Arunas Chesonis, Sweetwater Energy Chairman/CEO. “Right from the start they’ve been welcoming and energetic, and we’re looking forward to offering solid employment in the region and expanding there as we grow.”
As with the New York site, this plant has been designed to utilize Sweetwater’s new proprietary technology in combination with pre-existing chemical manufacturing infrastructure to produce final bio-based products for market, company officials said.
Last week the IRRR unanimously approved an $18 million loan, at 3 percent interest paid over 15 years, that would support development of a $52.8 million biotechnology manufacturing facility. Sweetwater Energy would utilize the loan to help construct a commercial scale biotechnology facility in Mountain Iron.
Combined with IRRRB support, loans from the 21st Century Minerals Fund ($6 million), Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Minnesota Investment Fund ($1 million), and Minnesota Agricultural and Economic Development Board ($1 million), would provide total funding of $26 million for the project. The facility would become operational in 2017, IRRR said. Before Sweetwater receives state incentives, it must secure about $26.8 million in funding to construct, equip and set the plant into operation.