U.S. Steel announced in mid-September that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted the final necessary federal permits for expansion of the taconite mining area at the company's Minntac operations at Mountain Iron, Minnesota. The mine expansion project had received the necessary state permits earlier this year. As a result, the Minntac mining operations will be expanded by 483 acres, adding 16 years of mine life and ensuring the long-term competitiveness of the operation. Approximately 100 jobs are being created as a result of the project.
U.S. Steel's Minnesota Ore Operations on the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota include Minntac at Mountain Iron and Keetac at Keewatin. Taconite is mined and processed into iron ore pellets for use in U. S. Steel's steelmaking facilities. Pellet production capabilities are approximately 16 million short tons per year (st/y) at Minntac and 6 million st/y at Keetac.
Subsequently, U.S. Steel announced on September 16 that it will not pursue an expansion of its Keetac operations. The expansion would have increased Keetac pellet production by 3.6 million st/y to a total of 9.6 million st/y and included upgrading and restarting an idled pelletizing line and upgrading the mining, concentrating and agglomerating processes. The permits required for this expansion expired in September and will not be renewed.