Cliffs CEO: Without mineral rights, Irone Range taconite hub could shut down

Cleveland Cliffs Inc
An undated file photo provided by Cleveland Cliffs, Inc., of the Hibbing Taconite mine located in Hibbing, Minn. Cleveland Cliff's CEO says the mine may shut down if new mineral rights aren't granted.
Olson, Michael

An Iron Range taconite operation could shut down if its giant parent corporation doesn't get new mineral leases that are currently tied up in court.

Cleveland Cliffs CEO Lorenzo Goncalves warned Thursday at a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce event in Minneapolis that Hibbing Taconite will deplete usable ore within the next few years.

He's eyeing a mineral deposit in Nashwauk to keep HibTac operational. Cliffs has scattered holdings in the area but a controlling set of leases is subject to litigation.

Goncalves says once that's resolved, he expects the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to make a deal with him.

Move over Cliffs: ArcelorMittal set to manage Hibbing Taconite

He told reporters he won't bid against other companies for the leases.

"Listen to me, if they put to bid, I am not even going to bid,” Goncalves said. “So whoever wins, I don't give a rat's behind. I'm not going to even talk to that entity. That place will be pristine forever. It will be gone for good."

Hibbing Taconite employs hundreds of people in the region. According to Iron Range Today, United Steelworks Local 2705 recently organized a march in Chisholm calling on the plant to be preserved.

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