Production Set to Restart at Keetac Plant

United States Steel Announces Third-Party Iron Ore Pellet Sales Agreement

KEEWATIN, Minn.  – United States Steel Corporation announced today it has reached agreements to supply iron ore pellets to third-party customers.

U.S. Steel will adjust its iron ore pellet production in order to take full advantage of these business opportunities. Within the adjustments, includes the restart of the Keetac Plant in Keewatin, Minnesota.

The Keetac Plant, which has an annual production capacity of approximately six million net tons, has been temporarily idled since May 2015 due to global influences in the market, including high levels of imported steel products, unfair trade, and reduced steel prices.

Employee callbacks at Keetac will begin in early January 2017 for 200 positions, and the company anticipates production will begin in March 2017, in which the remaining employees that were laid off in May 2015 when the facility went idle, are expected to return.

“This was kind of a surprise,” said Cliff Tobey, United Steelworkers Local 2660 president. “Apparently the company had been working somewhat behind the scenes on getting some pellet contracts and yeah apparently they succeeded…looks like it’s going to bring us back to work.”

Representatives from the Steelworkers’ Union did tell FOX 21 that not all of the employees that were laid off will come back, as they have moved on to new jobs after the lay-off.

Governor Mark Dayton released the following statement on the reopening of the Keetac plant:

“This is great news for Keetac’s workers, for the Range, and for all of Minnesota.”

Representative Rick Nolan statement:

“Keetac’s reopening is wonderful news for the Iron Range. In my conversations with U.S. Steel executives, it appears that this will bring back in the neighborhood of 200 good-paying jobs to our region at its commencement. This accomplishment is the result of a team effort with the mining companies, steelworkers, the Obama Administration and those of us in Washington who have championed the cause of securing high tariffs and taxes on subpar, low-quality steel subsidized by foreign governments and dumped into our market by trade-cheater nations. These high tariffs and taxes have already shown great results for our American mining industry, and they will continue to improve market conditions over the next 5 years. After countless hours testifying before the International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce, working with the Administration, and bringing White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to the Iron Range to see the devastating impact of steel dumping during what many have called ‘the day that changed everything,’ I am thrilled to see this enormous, positive step.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s statement:

“The collective voice of American workers to combat illegal steel dumping is producing results. As we head into the new year, this announcement generates both a renewed confidence for the U.S. steel industry to bring back more jobs and a renewed commitment for those of us who continue to fight for a level playing field for American workers. We cannot rest until every worker is back on the job.”

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