CEO of Cliffs responds to Walz letter about future of Hibbing Taconite

Updated: February 02, 2021 07:16 PM
Created: February 02, 2021 11:34 AM

Cleveland-Cliffs is responding to Governor Walz's letter about the future of Hibbing Taconite.

CEO Lourenco Goncalves said they had been negotiating with U.S. Steel about the Carmi-Campbell leases, which could help extend the life of Hibbing Taconite. Right now, Cliffs said there's a reserve base of five years at the mine. 

But he said a solution failed to materialize. That's why Cliffs pursued land options in Nashwauk, and why Goncalves repeated his proposal to mine Nashwauk and put a DRI plant and steel plant at the site. Right now, the state has extended their lease agreements with Mesabi Metallics.

Goncalves said he would welcome the involvement of the state in convening the parties to "work quickly toward facilitating a viable option with the Carmi-Campbell leases."

He's proposing that Cliffs, U.S. Steel, and the state each designate a representative to meet to work towards a solution.

On Monday, Governor Walz sent letters to both Cleveland-Cliffs and U.S. Steel, asking them to call so they can work together on solutions.

U.S. Steel sent a statement on Tuesday: "U.S. Steel recognizes the importance of Hibtac and all iron mining operations to the communities, employees and businesses on the Iron Range.  We have and will continue to work collaboratively with the Governor and the Iron Range legislative delegation to seek a workable solution that will benefit all concerned stakeholders."  

Walz's letter mentioned that there are reserves for Minntac's immediate future, but U.S. Still has expressed interest in securing leases for additional high quality ore that would solidify the long-term options for the mine.

Steelworkers at Hibtac continue to mine in Hibbing, knowing their future may be hashed out, in St. Paul. Local 2705 President Chris Johnson said he believes the governor has the solution, which is awarding the state leases in Nashwak to Cliffs.

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