Cliffs Natural Resources reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers (USW), on a new three-year labor contract, which will cover approximately 2,000 miners at Cliffs’ Tilden and Empire mines in Michigan, and its United Taconite and Hibbing Taconite mines in Minnesota.

“We are pleased to reach a new labor contract that is fair and equitable to both parties, and provides Cliffs a competitive cost structure for future success,” said Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president and CEO for Cliffs. “This agreement once again reinforces that we have more in common with the USW than we have differences, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership.”

The proposed agreement, which would be retroactive to October 1, 2015, and expire on October 1, 2018, is pending ratification by USW local union memberships.

“We have negotiated a fair agreement that preserves our wages, benefits, and other longstanding rights and protections without lowering the standards of living of current workers or retirees,” said USW District 11 Director Emil Ramirez, who chaired the union’s negotiations with Cliffs.

In related news, earlier this month, Cliffs announced that its Tilden Mining Co. entered into a new 20-year energy agreement with WEC Energy Group to provide the Tilden mine with a long-term, reliable and affordable source of electrical power in Michigan.

Cliffs said the agreement will provide Cliffs’ Tilden mine with a clean, cost-effective and highly efficient energy-generating capacity solution and also resolve the long-term energy reliability issues facing the residents in Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Under this agreement, WEC Energy Group, through the proposed Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp., plans to construct, own and operate 170 MW of new natural gas generating capacity across two sites in the Upper Peninsula.

Pending regulatory approvals, the proposed facilities are expected to commence operation in 2019, which will be in advance of the retirement of the 365-MW Presque Isle coal-fired power plant. WEC will fund the entire $255 million investment.