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Steelworkers: New ownership brings ‘a fresh start’

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VIRGINIA, MN — Arcelor is out and Cleveland-Cliffs is in. Following a sale at the end of 2020, Cliffs purchased ArcelorMittal USA at a price tag of about $1.4 billion.

Along with that came a shake up at local mining operations including the Minorca mine in Virginia.

According to union leadership, so far, the changes are for the better.

I think it's a fresh start,” said Harold Anderson, President of Local 6115 representing the Minorca Mine. 

“When the news came it was really surprising,” said Anderson in reference to the sale of ArcelorMittal USA. “I mean, my phone just blew up. What's going on, what does that mean for us?”

Anderson said once the buyout was complete, it didn't take long for changes to begin.

“It was like in the first few days that upper management changed. Which we saw a very quick, nice change with the upper management at the international level."

On a local level, Anderson has been focused on the 300 union brothers and sisters he represents. 

“Right now they have to honor our contract. When they bought the company they also bought the contracts and the legacy costs. So until 2022 when our contract expires everything will remain the same."

As for the change in leadership, Anderson said he's looking forward to working with Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves.

“I didn't have any hesitation. I know his relationship with the other locals with the mines. It's been way better than what we had with AM USA. So it was pretty upbeat."

While Anderson acknowledged there are still procedural kinks that need to be worked out, overall, he's excited about the new ownership and for the future of the Minorca Mine.

“We have decades of already permitted land ready to go. We're a smaller facility so we don't go through as much ore as say Minntac, but our permits are out way into the future so it looks good for all of us,” said Anderson. “I just want to keep making that competitive pellet and keep producing for Cliffs our new employer."

In a statement, Cliffs President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said,

“We recognize our leadership role both domestically and globally as a major steel company, and pledge to operate our business in a disciplined, environmentally responsible, and socially conscious manner. The potential of operating this set of assets under one roof is immense, and will be carried out to the benefit of our employees, their families, and the communities in which we operate.”

The billion-dollar acquisition of ArcelorMittal USA also impacts Hibbing Taconite, which Cliffs is now managing once again. 

Kristen Vake

Anchor, Reporter

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