Cliffs Natural Resources to cut nearly 100 jobs; Impact to Minnesota is unclear

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

By Riham Feshir

MPR (90.1) News

VIRGINIA — Cliffs Natural Resources said Tuesday it will eliminate 95 management positions at five U.S. iron ore operations. Three of those operations are in northern Minnesota.

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A company spokesperson said Cliffs does not have a breakdown of how many salaried employees at United Taconite, Hibbing Taconite and Northshore Mining are affected by the restructuring.

“What we’re doing, adjusting our overall salary staffing across the company to match up with our current operating footprint,” said Patricia Persico, director of corporate communications.

“During the first quarter, we had further reduced corporate overhead by about 25 percent,” Persico said. “Now, presently, we’re reducing, implementing more of a streamlined management structure for U.S. iron ore operations in Minnesota and Michigan.”

Persico added that the job cuts will come through “position elimination, retirements, and some role reassignments across the business.”

State Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, said the lack of similar jobs in the area is concerning.

“Right now on the Iron Range with the mining industry the way it is and there are a lot of shut down sand layoffs in the very immediate future I think those people are going to have a difficult time finding jobs in northern Minnesota,” Melin said.

State Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, said there has been a trend in taconite layoffs this year especially in northern Minnesota.

“It’s just kind of an unfortunate string of events this year,” he said. “We’ve had a serious decline in the domestic American steel consumption largely due to steel dumping and issues with our foreign trade policy on a federal level.”

Cliffs has also announced it will be temporarily idling its Empire mine in Michigan at the end of June. That shutdown is expected to last through October.