HOYT LAKES (AP) -- LTV Steel Mining Co.'s taconite plant here could be turned into a pig iron or semi-finished steel slab facility, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., which manages LTV's Hoyt Lake operation, announced it would close the taconite plant in July 2001, putting 1,400 people out of work.
The company said the plant would be closed in part because of poor ore quality and a need for about $700 million in capital improvements.
''The (iron ore) reserve there is huge,'' said Bill Brice, director of the DNR Lands and Minerals Division. ''As far as the ore itself, it isn't that bad, but the stripping ratio (the amount of ground stripped away to mine a ton of ore) is high and there's a problem with pellet quality due to the pelletizer.''
The DNR's study, which was released Thursday, found that LTV Steel Mining Co. has a taconite reserve of 400 million tons, second only on the Iron Range to the 585 million tons at U.S. Steel's Minntac Mine in Mountain Iron.
Jerry Fallos, president of Steelworkers Local 4108 in Aurora, met with LTV Steel Co. blast furnace operators in Cleveland this week.
Fallos said the DNR study gives him hope for the mine's future.
''It sounds like there's other good possibilities that someone could take over this mine and make value added iron or slab (semi-finished) steel,'' he said. ''There's a lot of optimistic things that could happen, but some of them could take two or three years.''
Gov. Jesse Ventura could use the data from the study to attract a new owner or process to the plant, said Rep. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.
But Bakk cautioned any new venture for the mine would take time to develop.
''My feeling is it's just too early to get excited,'' said Bakk. ''I think Cliffs is looking at something, but whatever happens won't be 1,400 jobs.'
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.