‘The resurgence of Empire’

Cambensy states her support


MARQUETTE — Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. CEO Lourenco Goncalves said today that the company is close to announcing the reopening of the Empire Mine in Richmond Township.

His comments came during Cliffs’ 2018 Fourth-Quarter and Full-year Earning Conference Call, accessible as a webcast on the company’s website.

“We have opportunities. We have one that’s actionable as we speak, and that’s Empire,” Goncalves said in the call. “We are finalizing our studies to bring back Empire. Remember, we never shut down Empire, we put Empire on indefinite idle, which means that under the right circumstances we would bring Empire back. We still have a few I’s to dot, a few T’s to cross, but I am very pleased to inform, for the first time actually in a public forum, that we are close to announce the resurgence of Empire.

“And that should be great news for Michigan, and for the great people of Michigan, to know that Empire has a great chance of being brought back into operation in not-so-long future down the road, because Empire would really mitigate a big portion of the hole in our supply of blast furnace pellets as we supply to HBI (hot briquetted iron).”

The Cleveland-based mining company has been weighing its options between reopening the idled Empire Mine or opening a potential mining site in Nashwauk, Minnesota.

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette

In a prepared statement issued today, state Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, said during discussions with personnel from CCI’s Michigan Operations on Monday, she was made aware that there will be a “pretty significant pellet shortage in the market this coming year.”

“It is my understanding that Cliffs is still in negotiations regarding possible partnerships to reopen the Empire,” Cambensy said. “If successful, they will move ahead with the other main factors they need in conjunction with the state of Michigan and major energy corporations to make the possibility of reopening the Empire a reality. I remain heavily invested in helping Cliffs secure the support they need from the state at this time. The Marquette Iron Range and the jobs they bring to our region are undeniably some of the most critically important high-paying jobs that legislators need to fight to bring back and sustain. Cliffs and the people of the 109th (District) have my full support as they move forward to do so.”

Goncalves said today in the conference call that the “Empire is ahead of Nashwauk,” although no firm decisions have been announced.

The Empire Mine was idled in 2016, causing the subsequent loss of more than 300 jobs to the area.

See Saturday’s edition of The Mining Journal for a more complete story on this development.