CHISHOLM, MN — For the past 40 plus years Cleveland-Cliffs has managed Hibbing Taconite, but as of Monday that’s changed.
As employees get used to new management there’s another big hill to climb – the declining lifespan of the mine.
Local 2705 Union President, Chris Johnson, has worked at Hibbing Taconite for 13 years, all of which were under Cleveland-Cliffs management.
Johnson said Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves has been a champion for HibTac and its employees.
“Talk about a guy that says what he means and then does what he says, it’s been him,” said Johnson in the union hall located in downtown Chisholm.
HibTac is a joint venture between majority-owner ArcelorMittal, US Steel, and Cleveland-Cliffs.
We heard from Goncalves at a recent event at Northshore mine.
“I like to move fast, I like to make decisions and go. The partnership dynamics is not bad but it’s different from how I operate my business.”
With a 23 percent stake in the mine Cliffs announced last year it would be handing the management role over to ArcelorMittal.
“The transition is going extremely well,” said Goncalves. “ArcelorMittal is taking over very smoothly. We are going to continue to cooperate with ArcelorMittal and ArcelorMittal will continue to work to extend the life of Hibbing Taconite.”
It’s no secret the mine is running out of room and resources. In fact, Johnson said they were told the mine only has a handful of years left.
“We’re being told 2025. So it’s not far away and before that happens there’s gonna be cutbacks and layoffs before that, but as we sit right now it’s about 2025.”
With 650 union brothers and sisters to answer to, Johnson hopes extending the mine’s life will be a priority for ArcelorMittal as well.
“Our hopes as a whole are that they’re going to find life of mine whether that be through land swaps, whatever we have to do. I hope they continue to search and find that as do all of our members.”
We did reach out to ArcelorMittal for comment on its plans moving forward but did not hear back by news time.