The U.S.’s biggest iron ore miner Monday said it would restart a key mine in Minnesota, a positive sign for the battered U.S. steel industry following a small uptick in prices and new import tariffs on foreign steel.
Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. said it would resume production of iron ore pellets at its Northshore operations, which employ 540 workers, by May 15.
The mine, which was idled in December, was one of many industrial facilities in the U.S. to fall prey last year to a painful downtown in the industrial commodities sector, driven by a slowdown in Chinese demand, a collapse of energy prices and the stronger dollar. Steel prices in the U.S. fell over 30% on the year. Big steelmakers laid off thousands of workers, closed plants and posted billions of dollars in losses.
“As our clients’ order books improve and their need for pellets approach more normal levels, we are pleased to announce that we are bringing back to work our dedicated employees at Northshore,” said Cliffs chief executive Lourenco Gonclaves.
The sector is getting some help. The U.S. this month announced new tariffs on imports of cold rolled steel, a basic form of the metal used to make appliances and shipping containers, from seven countries, including China.
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