Northshore Mining plant in Silver Bay set to reopen this spring
WTIP file photo by Jaye White

Northshore Mining plant in Silver Bay set to reopen this spring

Minnesota state Sen. Grant Hauschild told WTIP yesterday that he has received confirmation from Cleveland-Cliffs that the mining company is beginning to contact miners about reopening their Babbitt and Silver Bay plants in early April.

Northshore Mining operates an open pit taconite mine in Babbitt and a processing plant in Silver Bay along the North Shore of Lake Superior in nearby Lake County.

Cleveland Cliffs, which owns Northshore Mining, idled the pellet plant in Silver Bay last May amid an ongoing royalty dispute with the trust that owns the mineral rights where the ore is mined on the Iron Range.

About 400 out of an estimated 580 employees were laid off during the closure. Many of those, including workers from the plant in Silver Bay, lost unemployment benefits last November.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill co-authored by Hauschild that extended unemployment insurance benefits for miners who had been laid off. During an interview in January with WTIP, Hauschild said this bill was a good short-term solution, but that it was important for Cleveland-Cliffs’ to reopen their mining operations.

Meanwhile, as word spread this week about the scheduled reopening of the pellet plant in Silver Bay and the mine site on the Iron Range, politicians from St. Paul to Washington D.C. celebrated the news.

“This is a win for Silver Bay, northeastern Minnesota and the state as a whole,” Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar also released a statement Feb. 20.

“After meeting with miners impacted by the Silver Bay plant and Babbitt mine idling, working with local northern Minnesota legislators to push for the extension of state unemployment benefits, and most recently, meeting in Washington with Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves about reopening, I’m glad mining operations will be reopening in Babbitt and Silver Bay and the miners will be returning to work,” Klobuchar said in the statement.