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Dayton to visit the Iron Range as region reels from 1,100 mining layoffs

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Gov. Mark Dayton will be visiting the Iron Range on Saturday as the region reels from the impact of hundreds of jobs layoffs because of the downturn in the steel industry.

Finance and Commerce reports that Dayton will address union workers after the latest blow for the local economy, which saw U.S. Steel announce Tuesday that 680 more workers will be temporarily laid off as it idles its Minntac mine this coming June.

Dayton will join a series of public officials who have made the trip to Minnesota's northeast in the wake of a string of announcements affecting the area's iron mining industry.

Finance and Commerce say that union leaders have noted "strong support" from within the state, but have not commented on their expectations for their meeting with the Governor.

The region has lost more than 1,100 jobs, albeit on a temporary basis, in just over a month, with U.S. Steel also furloughing more than 400 workers at its Keewatin iron ore plant, while Magnetation announcing 49 workers will be furloughed as it idles its plant, also in Keewatin.

The idling has been prompted by imports of low-cost steel from Asian nations such as South Korea and China, as well as an increase in iron ore production in Australia, Brazil and other parts of the U.S, the Star Tribune reports.

As a result, prices of taconite – a low-grade iron ore mined in the Iron Range – has dropped from $95 a ton last June to just $60 a ton in March.

The Mesabi Daily News reports that Lt. Gov. Tina Smith visited the area earlier this week promising the full support of the Governor's office to laid-off workers.

The newspaper notes that one of the concerns state official hopes to address is ensuring that employees who didn't have enough time to be insured by U.S. Steel sign up for health insurance, as well as identifying educational opportunities for workers during their furlough period.

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