United Taconite Temporarily Idling

Cliffs Natural Resources Idles Iron Range Plant

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“It’s not a surprise but it kinda, kinda sucks,” United Taconite employee and member of the United Steelworkers 6860 Dan Hill said.

Hill along with 419 other United Taconite hourly and salaried employees got the news Wednesday morning that they would soon be out of a job.

“Stuff will be cut you know,” said Hill. “Cell phones, satellite TV and that kind of stuff.”

United Taconite, a major iron ore producer is temporarily shutting down.

“We hate to have to do that,” Cliffs Natural Resources chairman, president and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said. “We absolutely dislike the fact that we’re doing that but we have no option.”

High inventories combined with a decline in the demand for blast furnace pellets is being cited as the primary reason for idling.

“We are the on the receiving end of the injury caused by this unfairly traded steel in United States,” said Goncalves.

“It’s gonna keep on happening if we keep on buying made in China stuff and made in Korea stuff,” said Hill.

Cliffs Natural Resources just released their financial report.

“The second quarter of the year was really bad,” said Goncalves.

Officials say profits were made but consolidated revenues decreased by more than $200 million from the previous year’s second quarter revenues.

“Despite the fact that demand for steel continues to be good, a good chunk of the demand is not going to domestic mills,” said Goncalves. “It’s going to imported steel.”

This temporary shutdown could go beyond the steel plant and spill into the city.

“Any major projects, mostly infrastructure work, are probably going to have to be put off or scaled back until things get backed to where they were,” Eveleth Mayor Robert Vlaisavljevich.

While Cliffs Natural Resources does not want to temporarily idle the plant they tell FOX 21 there is one benefit to the shutdown.

“As a positive consequence we are going to be able to make the modifications that are necessary to make UTAC able to produce this superflux pellets that will replace the current superflux pellet,” said Goncalves.

“With these technological upgrades I think they got a real good future,” said Vlaisavljevich.

If all goes as planned the plant will be shut down by the end of August.

Steelworkers say for possibly 6 months.

An anti-dumping lawsuit against several countries has been filed.

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