Iron Range mine to close next year

Minnesota State Roundup

Published July 1, 2000  | July 2000 issue

In May, LTV Steel Mining Co. announced the closure of its Hoyt Lakes taconite plant in 2001. The community and state have since been grappling for alternatives for the plant's 1,400 employees and 43-year-old building.

The first 120 employees will be laid off in August and the remainder next July 1, affecting about 24 percent of the area's taconite mining workforce. Declining ore quality and the high cost of plant renovation are reasons cited for the closure.

The impact will reach throughout the region's economy: LTV employees earn an average of $65,000 annually. LTV has offered alternatives to some employees—a crack at jobs opening up over time at other LTV Midwest steel plants, or retirement; the latter could cut the number out of work to about 840. But regional economists project that for every mining job lost, at least one other job in the community also would be lost. Currently, available jobs would pay far less than the mining positions. In addition to the loss of jobs, the region will lose its share of about $14 million in state taconite production taxes paid annually by LTV.

The regional Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and others have begun looking at economic redevelopment strategies; the governor even made a pitch for the community on a late night TV talk show.