Keetac Expansion on Hold

Posted at: 01/30/2013 6:04 PM
Updated at: 01/31/2013 9:59 AM

U.S. Steel's CEO, John P. Surma, spent time in Minneapolis on Wednesday, sharing more about the company and their goals.

"What we're about in Minnesota, and what we do, is mine, employ, and invest. We are also trying to be an environmental leader in the taconite industry," he told the crowd of several hundred at the Minnesota Economic Club.

He highlighted the importance of Minntac and Keetac to their operations. "U.S. Steel would likely be a very, very different company without them, if indeed we would be a company at all. That's how important they've been to us over the years."

He and his team brought samples of raw taconite and iron ore pellets for the crowd, many of whom have never been to the mines.

Surma brought up the proposed expansion at Keewatin Taconite, which includes the re-start of an idled line. It would mean 75 new jobs, 25 more years of mine life, and a boost in production for Keetac. This was announced in 2008, before the recession. Now, it remains on hold.

"The project is on hold, while we look at business conditions, and some proposed regulatory standards that would be relevant to the project," he said to the crowd.

When asked if the sulfate standard and NOX levels are a concern at a press conference afterwards, he said those are regulations they are looking at, but that overall, some uncertainty in what's happening in Minnesota is a concern.

He did say that the Minntac extension that's being worked on is really setting up the mine for the long term.

Also, U.S. Steel is going to be part of the new Iron Ore Alliance, which is going to help build more awareness in the state about the importance of mining. The United Steelworkers are also part of the group.

Surma met privately with Governor Mark Dayton, the Range delegation, IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich, and other business leaders, from companies like Minnesota Power.




As for the industry outlook, Surma said that we can expect some growth in 2013, but it may not be as robust as earlier in the decade. "We could see some single digit increases in the United States."