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Minntac workers return after shutdown

Minntac equipment

More than 300 workers returned to work at Minntac this week after a scheduled shutdown.

The scheduled two-week vacation shutdown, which started the week of May 10, was extended one week, said Mike Woods, Steelworkers Local 1938 president. He said about 320 employees came back to work this week.

Another three-week shutdown will begin June 28, Woods said.

U.S. Steel Corp., owner of Minntac and Keewatin Taconite, lost $439 million during the first three months of 2009. In contrast, the company posted positive earnings of $235 million during the same period last year.

The taconite and domestic steel industries have been hit hard over the past six months by the global economic recession. All of the state's six operational taconite companies have announced some sort of layoffs or extended seasonal shutdowns.

There have been rumors, however, that Minntac may increase production to a second line, Woods said, "but they have not informed me of anything yet."

U.S. Steel spokeswoman Courtney Boone declined to talk about the possibility of increasing production.