A bankruptcy judge approved plans Thursday to let Magnetation LLC shut its final two iron ore processing plants, in Minnesota and Indiana, and to terminate a pellet purchase agreement with A.K. Steel.
Magnetation President Matthew Lehtinen said in an e-mail statement the court motion will allow the company to wind down what is left of a company that has been limping along since it filed for bankruptcy in May 2015.
Magnetation, which converted leftover iron ore tailings into iron pellets, warned in August it may be forced to close the rest of its operations unless it found a final investor. The company was unsuccessful, so the company will close its Grand Rapids Plant 4 on Minnesota's Iron Range and a plant in Reynolds, Ind.
The Grand Rapids plant opened in December 2014 with the ability to produce 2 million tons of iron ore. With its closure, about 160 workers will lose their jobs.
"Now, our focus shifts to safely shutting down the Pellet Plant and Plant 4 in order to preserve their value for a potential buyer," Lehtinen said. "We are grateful for the contributions of the hundreds and hundreds of people over the last five years on this pioneering effort. We are hopeful that a buyer of the plants will be secured so that all stakeholders can look forward to a better future."
Magnetation, which began production in 2008, was hit by the global pricing slump across the iron-ore industry starting in 2014. Magnetation closed its Keewatin Plant 1 in March 2015. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and shut its Chisholm plant in May 2015
Up until Thursday, more than 272 Minnesota workers and more than a dozen suppliers had been affected.