Another mining company announces cutbacksby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — Another taconite mining company is announcing cutbacks -- this time in the Iron Range city of Virginia, MInn.
Arcelor-Mittal's Virginia mine becomes the last of six Iron Range mining operations to slash production. The company announce that its Minorca mine will be shut down from mid-April through July.
Local steelworkers union President Ray Pierce says the workers knew it was coming, but that it's still a big concern, especially for younger workers. Rank and file workers were told a month ago that layoffs were likely.
Pierce says the workers face some uncertainty about a mid-summer restart.
"Every day, as you look at the way the economy is, that uncertainty is still definitely there," said Pierce. "And until they can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I don't think there's going to be too much for them to really care about."
The operation is Minnesota's smallest iron mine, employing about 300 people.
Within the last several weeks, Hibbing Taconite Co., Northshore Mining Co. and Keewatin Taconite Co. have all idled their plants, at least temporarily. U.S. Steel has laid off about half of its workforce at Minntac, putting 590 people out of work.
However, there's hope the mining industry will bounce back quickly. The Iron Mining Association of Minnesota says steel production could respond quickly to government stimulus packages in the U.S. and China.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)