- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

KEEWATIN, Minn. (AP) - U.S. Steel Corp. has decided against expanding its Keetac taconite operations in Keewatin, disappointing steelworkers and local residents, the general manager told Keetac union leaders Wednesday.

“I think everyone in Keewatin will be disappointed to hear this,” said Marilyn Heil, a Keewatin City Hall employee. “We had a lot of hope. They had already spent so much on environmental permitting. We really thought this was going to be a go.”

The $300 million expansion was first announced in 2008 and would have added another 75 jobs at the Keewatin facility where about 400 are already employed. State permits for the project were granted to the steel company in 2011 and expire this month.

WDIO-TV (https://bit.ly/XocaoN ) reported U.S. Steel has determined its current production capability in Keewatin is sufficient. The company also decided not to invest in a project at Gary Works in Indiana.

“The decisions to stop further efforts relative to these investments represent another step in our transformation to earn the right to grow,” U.S. Steel Corp. CEO Mario Longhi said in a statement. “These strategic decisions allow us to redirect funding to projects to further develop Advanced High Strength Steels for our automotive customers, premium connections for our energy market customers, and capital expenditures to update and modernize our operations.”

Even though residents are disappointed, they realize the recent news could be a lot worse.

“At least it’s not a layoff,” Heil said. “And we know the steel industry has its ups and downs.”

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Information from: WDIO-TV, https://www.wdio.com

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