Keetac plant Closing in Keewatin
Hundreds of Job will be Lost
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Last summer U.S. Steel pumped the breaks on a multi-million dollar expansion on the Iron Range.
Now they have announced the Keetac plant in Keewatin will temporarily shut down this May.
Keetac produces millions of tons of taconite pellets every year.
After hearing rumors of a possible shutdown U.S. Steel finally set the record straight.
“You know, not surprised but disappointed that it’s going to happen again,” Keewatin Mayor Bill King said.
In a release the steel producing giant confirms they are temporarily idling the Keetac plant due to the company’s high inventory levels and lower customer demand.
The company says unfairly traded products and reduced steel prices also continue to have an impact.
“We’ve watched the markets and we know that the price of iron and steel has been going down instead of staying steady,” said King.
This shutdown will leave 412 employees without a job which translates to about 1/3 of Keewatin out of work.
“Which is the sad part of the whole deal,” said King.
The bulk of Central Hanna Employees Credit Union’s business comes from local Keetac miners.
“I would say about 80%, 85%,” Central Hanna Employees Credit Union Manager Sally Barratto said.
They along with other local and area businesses will likely experience an economic setback in the coming months with so many workers being temporarily laid off.
“I’m sure that the loan volume will probably drop,” said Barratto.
The city as a whole will also feel the pinch.
“It has an effect, a big effect,” said King.
Keewatin will miss out on a production tax credit they receive when the Keetac plant produces which goes into the city’s general fund and helps pay for collaboration projects.
“We’ll start to see it immediately next year but it will affect us for at least 3 years after they start up,” said King.
At a time when things are unknown community leaders and members say one thing they can rely on is their resiliency.
“We survived and we’ll survive again, confident in that,” said Barratto.
FOX 21 reached out to U.S. Steel, they declined an on camera interview.
We also reached out to the U.S. Steelworkers Union in Keewatin, they were not available for comment.