Cliffs Idling Production at Northland Plant

By KBJR News 1

November 19, 2012 Updated Oct 31, 2013 at 1:01 PM CDT

Silver Bay, MN (NNCNOW.com)
-- An unstable iron ore market is hitting North Shore Mining employees hard.

Monday, Cliffs Natural Resource announced it will temporary shut down two production lines, impacting more than 100 employees.

"Well it is a tough day. It's a tough day for Cliffs; it's a really tough day for North Shore mining and our employees," said District Manager of Public Affairs with Cliff Nature Resources Sandy Karnowski.

Analysts are projecting a drop in demand for taconite pellets in 2013, causing major layoffs at Cliffs Natural Resources.

"Pellet pricing right now is volatile and we've seen some modest softening in the iron ore market, specifically for North Shore Mining this is based on customer need," said Karnowski in Silver Bay Monday. "The steel makers, the blast furnaces the utilization rate will drop next year so based on that information we have to adjust things with our production."

Two furnace lines will shut down to compensate for deceased demand and an unstable market in iron ore.

"At this point we're thinking that out productions plans for 2013 will be throughout the entire year."

The result; 125 employees will be without a job through 2013.

Layoffs will begin in January, and until then workers are in employment limbo.

"Over the next weeks we'll start determining exactly which employees will be affected by the layoffs and we'll begin informing those folks."

The silver lining exists in the fact that the lines could be active again, when demand resurfaces in the roller coaster ride known as the iron ore market.

Cliffs Empire Mine in Michigan will also temporarily idle production in 2013 for an extended summer shutdown that will impact 500 employees.

Zach Vavricka

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