U.S. Steel announced on March 31 that it will temporarily idle a portion of its Minntac iron ore mining and pellet production operations in Mt. Iron, Minnesota, effective June 1. The action is due to high inventory levels and ongoing adjustment of the company’s steelmaking operations throughout North America, the announcement said. The announcement followed a March 12 announcement that U.S. Steel is temporarily idling its Keetac iron ore mine and pellet plant at Keewatin, Minnesota (E&MJ, April 2015, p. 10).
Minntac has 16 million mt/y of iron ore pellet production capacity. The announcement did not say how much production will be cut but said Minntac will continue to operate at reduced capacity to meet customer demand.
The Keetac plant has 6 million mt/y of pellet production capacity.
A Duluth News Tribune news report on March 31 stated that local officials of the United Steelworkers union anticipated that 700 of its members will be laid off, approximately half of Minntac’s hourly work force. Minntac also has approximately 500 salaried workers.
The U.S. Steel announcement reiterated an earlier statement that, “Global influences in the market, including a high level of imports, unfairly traded products, and reduced steel prices, continue to have an impact on our operations.”