Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. will restart its idled United Taconite mining facility on Minnesota's Iron Range in August, instead of October, company officials announced Thursday.
The good news means that about 450 laid-off workers at the Forbes and Eveleth faciliites will return to work after months off the job.
Officials of United Taconite's parent firm, Cliffs, said "The August restart of UTAC was made possible due to additional business recently contracted with U.S. Steel Canada to supply the majority of their iron ore pellet requirements for the third and the fourth quarters of 2016." The long slump in the iron and steel industry maybe coming to an end as iron ore prices rise and as illegal steel dumping into the United States slows from China and Korea as new U.S. trade tariffs take hold.
The new iron-ore pellets ordered by U.S. Steel Canada will come from Minnesota and brings Cliffs' sales volume expectations for the year to a higher level than previously forecasted.
"Accordingly, Cliffs is revising its 2016 sales volume guidance to 18 million long tons from its previous guidance of 17.5 million long tons. In addition, 2016 production volume guidance has been increased by 500,000 long tons to 16.5 million long tons," officials said Thursday.
Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in a statement, "The vast majority of the steel companies in North America are currently enjoying stronger order books, and their demand for high quality iron ore pellets from a reliable supplier is increasing. With that, Cliffs' business continues to gain very positive momentum, with the improvement of the existing business with our long established clients and the addition of new ones."
United Taconite is comprised of an iron ore mine and a pellet processing plant, and is located in Minnesota.