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Cliffs won't build Michigan nugget plant

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. said Tuesday it is dissolving its Michigan Iron Nuggets joint venture with Kobe Steel planned near its Empire and Tilden mines in Palmer, Mich.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. said Tuesday it is dissolving its Michigan Iron Nuggets joint venture with Kobe Steel planned near its Empire and Tilden mines in Palmer, Mich.

The joint venture was formed in 2007 to build a commercial operation to produce a 97 percent pure pig iron substitute using Kobe's technology and Cliffs' 65-percent iron taconite. The iron nuggets produced were expected to be sold to electric arc furnaces and foundries.

The plant was designed and permitted for construction and was originally expected to be operating by 2010 with more than 100 employees. According to Cliff's statement Tuesday, the venture had "conducted a number of feasibility studies on the possibility of pursuing a commercially viable process, but ultimately concluded that given its strategic priorities to focus on its core business, continued work on the project should be ended."

"We are disappointed that we are not able to move forward with the iron nugget facility, but remain very appreciative of the efforts made by federal, state, county and township officials who worked with Cliffs over several years on this project," said Joseph Carrabba, Cliffs chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Cliffs said it had less than 10 employees exclusively working on the joint venture and plans to reassign nearly all to other positions within the company.

Related Topics: MINING
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