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More Minnesota taconite miners will be heading back to work

U.S. Steel says it will start calling workers back to its taconite plant in Keewatin next month

The rebound in the steel industry has reached another town on Minnesota's Iron Range.

U.S. Steel said Thursday it's reopening a taconite plant in Keewatin that's been dark for more than a year and a half.

The company's statement says U.S. Steel has new agreements to sell iron ore pellets and will ramp up production to meet those deals. They say in January workers will start coming back to Keewatin Taconite – which is known as "Keetac" on the Range – and in March the plant should be churning out pellets again.

Shutdown lasted 19 months

Keetac shut down in May of 2015, throwing more than 400 people out of work (in a town of about 1,000).

It was just one of many mines and plants that were shuttered after a glut of steel on the market – much of it from China – sent the demand for iron ore plummeting. But the industry has been on the rebound in recent months.

U.S. Steel's CEO said earlier this month he would not be surprised if as many as 10,000 steel and ironworkers were rehired industrywide.

The company did not say Thursday how many people are being called back in Keewatin. U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who represents northeastern Minnesota in Congress, said in a statement that his talks with U.S. Steel made it sound like they would start with about 200.

The president of the steelworkers union local for Keetac told WDIO: "This 19 month shutdown has been extremely hard on our members and we hope this is a sign of better times to come."

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