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Facility that produces biofuel cubes to close in Michigan

Cliffs Natural Resources, the international mining and natural resources company that began producing biofuel cubes at a factory near Marquette this year, has announced that it is closing its renewaFUEL operation.

In a statement this week the company said that it plans to focus resources on iron mining, its core business.

The facility, located at the Telkite Technology Park near Sawyer International Airport in Marquette, Mich., was constructed to produce high-energy, low-emission biofuel cubes from sustainably collected wood and agricultural feed stocks. Since initial production the plant has not performed to design capacity, nor at a production level that justifies continued operation.

The company, which delivered its first load of biofuel cubes to the Marquette Board of Light and Power this summer, said it will try to find new positions for the 30 people who work at the biomass plant.

No public funds were used in the construction or operation of the plant, the company said.

Other biomass projects are awash in public dollars.

On the eastern side of the Upper Peninsula in Kinross the Mascoma corporation and logging company J.M. Longyear plan to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol annually at the Frontier biofuel refinery project.

That project is expected to receive more than $100 million in public funds as a renewable energy demonstration project.

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