Updated: Two Lines to be Idled at Northshore

Posted at: 11/19/2012 7:09 AM
Updated at: 11/19/2012 6:36 PM

Cliffs Natural Resources announced that they are going to temporarily idle two out of the four production lines at Northshore Mining in Silver Bay and Babbitt.

The company said this will affect 125 employees at Northshore, effective January 5. And this idling is for the entire year, unless the market improves.

The people who will be laid off hasn't been determined, according to VP of Public Affairs, Sandy Karnowski. "We hope the decision on how the layoffs will be executed will be made within a couple of weeks, so people can notify their families as soon as possible." There will be layoffs at both the plant in Silver Bay and the mine in Babbitt.

Employees were told on Monday morning.

Cliffs prefaced this announcement last month, during a conference call. CEO Joe Carrabba mentioned that there was a possibility of idling lines, due to what the company is expecting to be lower demand.

"Northshore Mining has specific customers. And one of them has requested fewer pellets," explained Karnowski. "We plan on running at full production at our other facilities, Hibbing Taconite and United Taconite, for 2013."

The company is also doing an extended summer shutdown at their Empire Mine in Michigan, which affects 500 employees.

However, Cliffs said that their full 2013 sales volumes remain unchanged, at 19-20 million tons.

Those in Silver Bay expressed disappointment, but they hope they'll weather through like they have before. "We'll keep our chins up," said Kelly Byrnes.

The mayor, Scott Johnson, said, "We went through worse when Reserve shut down completely. We'll survive this too," he said on the phone. Silver Bay has about 2,000 people.

Back in 2008, two production lines were idled at Northshore, because of weak demand. Then in 2009, the entire plant was shutdown for a few months.