Published May 1, 2002 | May 2002 issue
The Empire Mine in Palmer resumed operations in March, following a shutdown last November. But only 360 of its salaried and hourly employees will return to work, far fewer than the nearly 900 employed prior to the shutdown. Production is expected to be cut nearly in half this year as well: about 3 million tons of iron ore pellets vs. 5.7 million tons in 2001.
Last fall's shutdown came largely as a result of previous partner LTV Steel Corp.'s decision to halt integrated steelmaking, followed by LTV's filing for bankruptcy last December. While Cleveland Cliffs Inc., managing company and part owner of Marquette County's Empire and Tilden mines, indicated that reopening the mine is a positive step, the taconite industry still faces uncertain times. CCI also indicated that it is unlikely all the employees laid off from Empire will be called back to work.