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U.S. Steel CEO says company plans to restore 10,000 jobs

U.S. Steel Corp is looking at restoring up to 10,000 jobs in the United States, Chief Executive Mario Longhi said Wednesday, without providing a timeline.

"I'm more than happy to bring back the employees that we were forced to lay off during the depressing period," Longhi said in an interview on CNBC.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump emphasized his desire to renegotiate trade deals and restore jobs during his election campaign.

U.S. Steel has cut jobs and idled plants around the country in recent years as it tried to keep a lid on costs to tackle a steep fall in steel prices due to a global surplus.

The company had about 21,000 employees in North America as of Dec. 31, down from about 28,000 in 2007.

Wednesday's statement could be good news for about 400 employees of U.S Steel's Keetac taconite mine and processing operations in Keewatin who have been off the job for more than a year due to the slowdown in domestic steel production that hit hard in 2015.

Longhi had previously tied the future of Keetac to the company's Granite City Works near St. Louis, which makes oil industry pipeline and which has been idled because of the slowdown in new oil production. Once new oil pipeline orders increased, Longhi had said, then Keetac would reopen to supply Granite City with ore for its blast furnaces.

U.S. Steel also owns the Minntac taconite mining and processing operations in Mountain Iron, and is part owner of Hibbing Taconite.

The steelmaker is hoping to accelerate its investments in the United States in near future as changes in regulations and tax laws would significantly drive growth, Longhi said in Wednesday's interview.

Trump put forth a plan in September to simplify the tax code and slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent.

Investors have put fresh bets on steel company shares on a positive sentiment in the industry that has been fueled by the Nov. 8 election.

"I have not felt an environment of positive optimism, where forces are converging to provide for better environment, in quite a while," Longhi told CNBC.

U.S. Steel did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the job restoration plan.

The company's shares closed up 4.3 percent at $37.49 on Wednesday. The stock has risen 79 percent since Trump's victory.

The News Tribune contributed to this report.

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