CEO sees demand for Iron Range taconite growing; production up

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The president and CEO of Cliffs Natural Resources says the company's three Minnesota taconite mines will operate near full capacity with stable employment this year.

Gary Halverson told business leaders on the Iron Range the national demand for steel is expected to grow 4 percent this year, as the construction and automaking industries increase production, the News Tribune reports.

Cliffs operates three of Minnesota's six major taconite mines: Hibbing Taconite, United Taconite, and NorthShore Mining. The News Tribune says the company has 1,856 Iron Range employees and a payroll of $251 million.

Halverson expects Cliffs will increase its production of iron ore pellets from 21 million tons last year to more than 22 million this year. That growth will occur even as the company reduces spending, he says.

Northland's News Center reports Halverson says this year's capital expenditures will be less than half of last year's $860 million as the company focuses on its core mission.

Halverson stepped into the company's newly created role of president and CEO in late October. But his leadership has already come under fire.

As Business North reports, Cliffs' biggest investor – a New York hedge fund called Casablanca Capital – is pushing for a CEO change and wants the company to split off its international holdings.

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