DULUTH – A fourth Iron Range mine will be laying off workers as the coronavirus pandemic slashes steel demand and sends ripples through the region’s economy.
U.S. Steel will lay off 260 employees at its Minntac operation in Mountain Iron starting May 10. The layoffs are expected to last eight to 11 weeks.
“We all knew it was probably coming, unfortunately,” United Steelworkers Local 1938 President Steve Bonach said. “We could go back sooner, but there are so many unknowns with the virus.”
The union is working with management over which workers will be laid off; the mine employs about 1,300 people, Bonach said.
Hibtac, Keetac and Northshore Mining previously announced layoffs, with about 1,750 miners out of work over the next several months.
Minntac is the largest taconite operation in the state with a capacity of 16 million tons of iron ore annually.
On Thursday, U.S. Steel reached an agreement with Canadian steel company Stelco to sell a 25% stake in Minntac in a deal worth up to $600 million, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Stelco would pay $100 million by the end of the year and another $500 million by 2027 if it goes through with the purchase.
U.S. Steel reported a $391 million loss in the first quarter of 2020.