Minnesota’s Governor, Tim Walz, has sent letters to Cleveland-Cliffs and US Steel (USS), owners of two major taconite operations, urging them to join forces to keep the mines operating so that jobs on the Minnesota Iron Range may be protected.
The Minntac and Hibbing mines contain iron ore reserves that are diminishing and will likely run out of ore leading to a shut down by 2025. The two companies are currently the sole miners on the Iron Range. The site also contains a partially-built steel mill with a taconite pellet plant.
In the letter, Governor Walz offers assistance to both companies, in finding solutions. Walz also noted that there are adjoining sources of further mineable iron ore in Minntac and Hibbing that are not owned or leased by the nearest mine operator.
Cliffs responded via letter to the Governor expressing its continued plans to develop mining past the current 5-year reserve baseline which includes purchase of properties near Hibbing Taconite. So far, talks between the companies regarding relevant leases have not reached a conclusion. The company plans to buy land in Nashwauk to extend the mine’s life and set up a direct-reduced iron plant and subsequently, a steel mill supplied with HBI in the region.
Cliffs is the majority owner of Hibbing Taconite that has 740 employees and became the majority owner of the mine with the ArcelorMittal USA acquisition in late 2020. USS owns a 14.7pc stake in Hibbing Taconite and 100pc of Minntac, which is the largest Iron Range taconite operation with close to 1,400 employees. Canadian steel maker, Stelco was given the option of a 25pc share in Minntac by USS.