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Taconite operator Cliffs will idle Canadian iron ore operation

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., one of Minnesota’s largest taconite iron ore operators, announced Tuesday that it will close its Wabush Scully Mine operations in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, because the mine’s operating costs are too high.

Cliffs said the operations will be closed by the end of March.

“With costs unsustainably high, including fourth-quarter 2013 cash costs of $143 per ton, it is not economically viable to continue running this operation,” Cliffs said in a statement.

Cliffs had already idled Wabush Mine’s Pointe Noire pellet plant in June.

About 500 employees at both the Wabush Scully Mine and the Pointe Noire rail and port operation in Quebec are affected by the closures. The Wabush mine and concentrator have been open since 1965.

Cleveland-based Cliffs owns and operates Northshore Taconite in Silver Bay/Babbitt and United Taconite in Eveleth/Forbes. It also is a co-owner and operator of Hibbing Taconite.

The company did not say if closing the Canadian operation would affect its U.S. operations. But in past statements the company has praised its Minnesota operations for their relatively low cost-per-ton for taconite production. The company announced in October it would reopen two idled lines at Northshore.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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