U.S. Steel plans to restart Keetac in December

Updated: November 05, 2020 06:08 PM

An early Christmas present for Keetac steelworkers, as they are being called back to work.

The plan is to restart the plant in mid-December.

Dan Pierce, president of Local 2660, said, "It's a good feeling, going back to work. A lot of our members were running out of insurance. So this is perfect timing to get everyone back to work safely, and start producing pellets again."

Mayor Bill King said, "I'm relieved. I just want these folks to get back to work. It's good for our community."

Parent company U.S. Steel made the announcement Thursday afternoon. Here is their statement:

“After careful consideration, we have made the decision to restart our Keetac mining facility. We are encouraged by the increase in demand and believe this restart will best support our customers. This will also ensure that we have sufficient iron ore supply where it is needed to meet that demand.  We expect to fill nearly 400 positions as part of this restart and will work with the United Steelworkers (USW) to recall employees that may have been affected by the idle. We thank our employees for their patience as we work through the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The plant has been on indefinite idle since the spring, due to slowdowns for steel because of the pandemic.

Some of the Keetac workers have gone to work for other mines in the meantime. But those details will be sorted out.

Governor Walz sent this statement: "This is a good day for the Iron Range and for an industry that’s a pillar of Minnesota’s economy. The decision to re-open Keetac will restore hundreds of good-paying union jobs for Minnesotans in the Northland. I’m excited to see Minnesotans get back to work.”

Senator Tina Smith sent this: "The reopening of the Keetac mining facility is great news for the economic well-being of the families and communities of Minnesota's Iron Range. It will allow nearly 400 steelworkers to return to work and help get the Iron Range economy back on its feet. I've fought hard to stave off unfair steel imports and will continue to support a strong U.S. iron and steel industry because it provides good-paying jobs in Minnesota and keeps our nation secure."

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