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Cliffs to reopen two taconite lines at Northshore Mining

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SILVER BAY — Cliffs Natural Resources announced Friday in a teleconference with investment analysts that it would reopen two idle production lines at its Northshore Mining operations in Silver Bay.

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About 80 Northshore workers were laid off in January when two of four production lines were shut down. Some were recalled over the year while 54 remain on layoff.

It wasn’t announced how soon the laid off workers would be brought back.

“A start-up schedule and workforce plan for the production increase at Northshore Mining will be developed over the coming months," said Cliffs spokeswoman Sandy Karnowski.

The taconite operation has 591 employees.

Cliffs had reported Thursday that it expects U.S. taconite iron ore sales in 2014 to be between 23 million and 24 million tons, up significantly from the 21 million tons expected to be sold this year.

“This is primarily attributable to a new supply agreement with one of our North American steelmaking customers," Cliffs said, apparently referring to a deal announced in August with AK Steel to provide taconite to the steelmaker through 2023.

In addition to Northshore, Cleveland-based Cliffs operates United Taconite in Eveleth and Forbes and also is part owner and manager of Hibbing Taconite.

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