By Associated Press - Thursday, April 16, 2020

HIBBING, Minn. (AP) - U.S. Steel plans to indefinitely idle the Keewatin Taconite plant in northern Minnesota because of the drop in demand for iron and steel during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Thursday.

Officials said the closure will affect 75 employees “near term,” but a total of 375 employees will be affected over the next month.

In a statement, U.S. Steel said the company must make additional adjustments to its raw materials production and idle the Keetac plant in response to the “sudden and dramatic decline in business conditions” resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Star Tribune reports the state of Minnesota has been notified.

The temporary closure marks the second one announced this week for mines on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Cleveland-Cliffs said Monday it was idling Northshore Mining’s Babbitt and Silver Bay operations in Minnesota through August and its Tilden mining operations in Michigan through July.

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