Marquette Co. Community Fund established

Two of the biggest mining corporations in the world held a joint news conference this morning in Marquette.  Cliffs Natural Resources and Rio Tinto announced the creation of the Marquette County Community Fund.

The 4 million dollar fund is the result of infrastructure transaction that will benefit both companies – and the community.  The fund will provide financial assistance to major projects or programs in the community.  The money in the fund will be disbursed within five years.  A grant committee will soon be created to make decisions about the disbursement of the funds.

In a press release, 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 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 up 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 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 and 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.

The agreement stipulates that a Cliffs Rio Tinto Marquette County Community Fund grant committee will make the decision 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 applications guidelines and contact information will be posted on the Lake Superior Community Partnership’s website at