Great news for the Marquette iron range was announced recently with Cliffs Natural Resources saying it had entered into a revised agreement which will allow the life of the Empire Mine to be extended by at least two years.
We think this is great because just as the national, state and local economies have begun to show some pickup over the past few months, the area does not need a shutdown of one of its most stable employers.
The jobs of those 600 workers at the Empire Mine are vitally important to this region.
As reported by Mining Journal Staff Writer Christie Bleck, the pact with ArcelorMittal USA inc., allows Cliffs to supply iron ore pellets for two more years through the end of January 2017, with a mutual option to extend for a third year.
Cliffs and ArcelorMittal also have extended their joint partnership for the Empire Mine, located in Palmer.
Cliffs previously announced the pending closure of the mine, which did not have a customer for pellet production beyond this year until the agreement was reached with ArcelorMittal.
Dale Hemmila, Cliffs director of public affairs-North America said the extension provides a huge economic boost for Marquette County and shows ArcelorMittal's faith the mine can produce a "high-quality, competitive product."
The partnership arrangement was scheduled to expire automatically in December without the mutual agreement of both companies to extend.
While this news is no silver bullet to keeping the mine operating, and the jobs here, for untold numbers of years to come, it does provide a nice bright glimmer of hope just at a time when it was definitely needed. The region's economy will no doubt remain in better shape because of it.