MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton pulled few punches at a recent town hall meeting in Nashwauk amid debate over the future of a mining site.

According to CBS affiliate KBJR, Dayton’s comments occurred Monday as the debate heated up over the Mesabi Metallics project centered around the former Essar mine site, and the potential involvement or lack thereof from Cleveland-Cliffs.

“My honest and integrity means a lot to me,” Dayton said at one point in the debate. “And I’ve spent 40-plus years up here doing every g– d— thing I could to bring jobs to the Iron Range with one exception: Twin Metals. Everything else I’ve supported. Everything else I’ve done, within the confines of the law, whatever I could.”

KBJR reported that Dayton and Gary Heasley, the interim CEO of Mesabi Metallics, said Cleveland-Cliffs has had the opportunity for the last three decades to put an offer down on the land to lease the mine site and has failed to do so.

“If Cliffs wants to develop new mines they’re free to go do it. If they want to invest in existing mines, they do and they’re free to do that,” Heasley said. “Cliffs hasn’t been blocked or nothing has been done to Cliffs.”

KBJR reports this came in response to queries from Iron Range mayors, union members and Cleveland-Cliffs employees asking the panel why mineral leases were not awarded to that company after Essar’s bankruptcy.

There are some concerns, KBJR added, over whether the jobs at the Mesabi Metallics project would be union jobs.

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