Cliffs idling Northshore Mining until market improves; 500-plus workers affected


Another Minnesota iron ore operation will temporarily idle starting next month.

Cliffs Natural Resources announced Tuesday it will be idling a second operation starting Dec. 1. The Northshore Mining operation, located in Babbit and Silver Bay, will temporarily idle through the first quarter of 2016, Cliffs says.

The operation employs 540 people, with Cliffs saying it will "maintain minimal staffing during the temporary idle for basic maintenance duties and for on-going work to support the DR-grade pellet trials."

Most of the employees will be laid off, WDIO reports, with Minnesota Brown noting about 500 employees will be affected. Northshore is the only taconite operation in Minnesota that isn't unionized, reports note.

The company says existing demand will be met from its current iron ore inventory, and operations at Hibbing Taconite – its third operation in Minnesota – will continue.

"As soon as the unfairly traded steel problem subsides and domestic steel production recovers to normal levels, we will be able to immediately ramp up iron ore pellet production by bringing idled capacity back to operation," Cliffs' President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in the announcement.

This is the latest blow to Minnesota's mining industry in recent months as demands for U.S.-produced iron ore dwindles in the face of competition from foreign suppliers.

These challenges have forced Cliffs and other mining operations in the state to idle their plants, resulting in hundreds of workers being laid off.

Cliffs idled its United Taconite operation, laying off most of its 420 workers over the summer. On Tuesday, the company said the plant will idle through the first quarter of 2016 as well.

And two other production plants shut down in May for two full years, putting 200 people out of work.

Lawmakers react to plant idling

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who has been outspoken about "defeating" the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, released a statement Tuesday saying these layoffs are further proof that the United States "is incapable of effectively enforcing trade laws and agreements to protect American workers."

Nolan called the layoffs of "several hundred" Northshore Mining workers "terrible news – especially as we approach the holidays," adding thoughts are with the families and businesses affected and he will assure that "every means of help available will be forthcoming without delay."

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk has endorsed the idea of a special legislative session to extend unemployment benefits for about 600 steel workers who were laid off earlier this year, the Star Tribune reports. He sent a letter to Gov. Mark Dayton supporting the idea.

Dayton told reporters Tuesday that the extension of unemployment benefits is worthy of a special session.

Next Up

Knuth - Nezhad - side by side

Frey challengers Knuth, Nezhad agree to rank each other 2nd

They're urging supporters to do the same on Nov. 2.

Jerome Horton - Sherburne Co. Jail - CROP

Charges: Man lied to buy gun later used by St. Paul mass shooting suspect

He's accused of making false statements during the purchase of a firearm.

Screen Shot 2021-06-04 at 6.30.24 AM

BCA releases investigative file in Winston Smith's shooting death

The file contains 1,000 pages of documents, hundreds of photos and dozens of audio files.


Fire at Mpls. pizza joint weeks after opening, owners suspect arson

The owners arrived at work Tuesday to find the building on fire.

vaccine, covid

New COVID charts show hospitalization, death rates based on vaccine status

The unvaccinated are far more likely than the fully vaccinated to become hospitalized or die.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

White House begins process to ban new mining near BWCAW

The stated goal is to protect the "unique natural wonder" of the BWCAW.

Autumn Merrick, Autumn Rose Merrick

Man charged in shootout, crash that killed 18-year-old on scooter

Autumn Rose Merrick was with a friend near the Holiday gas station.

D Quagon - DOC photo

DOC searching for convicted sex offender who has gone on the run

The recently released man removed his GPS monitoring device.