U.S. Steel Plans More Minnesota Iron Ore Layoffs; Copper Financing Dying in China?

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Here at MetalCrawler the steel and iron ore layoffs keep on coming, unfortunately.

More Minnesota Iron Ore Layoffs

U.S. Steel Corp. said Tuesday it plans to idle part of its Minntac plant at Minnesota’s biggest taconite iron ore mine and processing plant, resulting in about 680 layoffs due to low steel prices and foreign competition.

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U.S. Steel spokeswoman Courtney Boone said the layoffs are temporary at the Mountain Iron facility, which employs about 1,500 workers, but that the company can’t speculate how long they’ll last. She said that will depend on market conditions and customer demand. Three of the plant’s five iron ore processing lines will be shut down, she said.

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel already announced it would idle its Keetac plant in nearby Keewatin effective May 13, resulting in 412 workers laid off. And Magnetation LLC announced in February that it was shutting down its Keewatin plant, resulting in about 20 job losses. The mining region is about 200 miles north of Minneapolis.

China’s Metals Financing Industry Weakens

Incentives that for years drove Chinese imports of copper to obtain short-term loans are starting to become less attractive, slowing demand in the world’s largest consumer of the metal, according to the Financial Times.

Stocks of copper held in Chinese bonded warehouses fell in the first quarter, even though it is traditionally a period of oversupply, according to figures released by consultancy CRU, suggesting weaker demand for financing.

Chinese copper consumption in the quarter rose 0.7%, the weakest rate since 2008, according to their data.

Banks have tightened up the issuance of letters of credit for metals imports after a scandal in the port city of Qingdao last year revealed that a trader used the same metal as collateral for multiple loans.

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