The already bankrupt Magnetation LLC could close its fourth Minnesota iron-ore plant by the end of the month unless new investors step in, according to a filing with the U.S. Department of Labor.
The company, in the filing, warned that Grand Rapids Plant 4 on the Iron Range and a newly expanded plant in Reynolds, Ind., could both face closure.
The Grand Rapids plant opened in December 2014 with the ability to produce 2 million tons of iron ore. If it closes, about 160 workers would lose jobs creating the latest blow to the struggling Grand Rapids-based company and to Minnesota’s Iron Range.
Magnetation President and COO Matt Lehtinen said Wednesday that company officials were actively meeting with potential investors in the hopes of finding a solution. Their latest meeting was Wednesday afternoon, and a final decision has not been made.
“We are still battling,” he said. “We’ll see how this plays out here in the next month.”
Magnetation, which began converting iron waste-tailings into usable iron concentrate in 2008, has been hard hit by the global pricing slump seen across the entire iron-ore industry. Magnetation closed its Keewatin Plant 1 in March 2015.
It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and shut its Chisholm plant in May 2015. It idled its Plant 2 in Bovey, Minn., in January.
In all, more than 272 Minnesota workers and more than a dozen suppliers have been affected.
It is not the only company hurt by the industry downturn. Others, such as U.S. Steel, also laid off workers or idled plants. However, Magnetation has struggled to pull out of the slump.
The rapid decline of the business is a big letdown for state officials who once cheered Magnetation’s expansion plans.
Magnetation operations used to have the capacity to produce more than 3 million metric tons of iron ore each year.
A bankruptcy judge is expected to hear more details during a hearing Sept. 27.