What Does Steel Megadeal Mean for Minnesota?

What Does Steel Megadeal Mean for Minnesota?

Cleveland-Cliffs has significant Iron Range operations.

On Monday, Cleveland-based Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., a large iron ore and steel producer, announced a deal to buy the U.S. operations of Luxembourg-based steelmaker ArcelorMittal for approximately $1.4 billion. The global deal could have implications for Minnesota’s Iron Range, where both companies operate facilities.

Mergers and acquisition deals often lead to some job cuts as the owner of the combined company looks for efficiencies.

The announcement from Cleveland-Cliffs characterizes the deal as a “highly synergistic transaction with clear line of sight to achievement of approximately $150 million of estimated annual cost savings.”

Cleveland-Cliffs was historically in the business of mining iron ore pellets. But in March the company closed on its acquisition of Ohio-based AK Steel Holding Corp. which brought it into the steelmaking business.

When the ArcelorMittal deal closes, Cleveland-Cliffs will be the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America as well as being the largest North American producer of iron ore pellets.

A veteran Iron Range legislator hopes that the deal is ultimately good news for the northeastern corner of the state.

“My gut feeling is that it’s probably an OK thing because Cliffs was always the emergent iron ore contractor. They would mine the ore and then have to sell the pellets; they had to be sold to somebody who had a steel mill. Now they’ve got the pellets and the steel mill,” said Sen. David Tomassoni, who has represented the Iron Range in the legislature for nearly three decades. “I think for the Iron Range it might mean a little bit more security.”

The DFL lawmaker noted that two U.S. companies, Cleveland-Cliffs and Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel, will now control iron ore mining on the range and that both are also steelmakers.

“I’m hoping it’s a positive,” said Tomassoni of the Cleveland-Cliffs/ArcelorMittal deal.

Cleveland Cliffs operates the Northshore Mine, two miles south of Babbitt; the United Taconite Mine near Eveleth; and the Hibbing Mine, which is located 10 miles north of Hibbing. The Northshore Mine also has a processing facility in Silver Bay.

Cleveland-Cliffs fully owns the Northshore and United Taconite mines; the deal with ArcelorMittal will now give it majority ownership of the Hibbing Mine.

ArcelorMittal USA also operates ArcelorMittall Minorca near Virginia.

Per the company’s web site, “ArcelorMittal contributes significantly to the regional and state economies and invests meaningfully throughout the Iron Range.”

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump, who has touted a revival of the U.S. steel industry, will be in northeastern Minnesota making a campaign appearance in Duluth.