Cleveland-Cliffs CEO: 'We are close to announcing the resurgence of Empire'

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RICHMOND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - The leader of Cleveland-Cliffs says he’s close to announcing the resurgence of the Empire Mine in Richmond Township.

In a conference call with investors Friday morning, Cliffs Chairman, President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said the following:

"We are seriously considering increasing our pellet output. We have opportunities. We have one that's actionable as we speak, and that's Empire. We are finalizing our studies to bring back Empire. Remember, we never shut down Empire. We put Empire on indefinite idle, and that means that under the right circumstances, we would bring Empire back. So we still have a few Is to dot and a few Ts to cross, but I am very pleased to inform for the first time actually in a public forum that we are close to announcing the resurgence of Empire. That should be great news for Michigan and for the great people of Michigan."

One year ago, Goncalves announced the company would either use the Empire Mine or land in Minnesota to expand operations to make pellets to supply hot briquette iron (HBI). Upper Michigan leaders and community members have been lobbying Cliffs since then to choose Empire.

Goncalves did not give a timeline about when an announcement could be made. He previously said the decision would be made before the end of 2018.

The Empire Mine was idled in Aug. 2016, affecting at least 240 employees.

State Representative Sara Cambensy says the possibly reopening of a mine could be a big win for not just the U.P. but the whole state.

"This is good news, we don’t have a definite 'it is reopening" but what we do know is that there is a severe pellet shortage in the coming year we know that Cliffs is a big player in providing and selling that in the market so as long as they can find a partner, they are still in negotiations, it looks like it could be a big win for Michigan," said Cambensy

During the same conference call Friday, Goncalves said 2018 was another great year for Cleveland-Cliffs, with more than $1.1 billion in net income.

TV6, FOX UP and will have continuing coverage of this developing story.

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