Cliffs calls back more workers

CLIFFS Natural Resources is putting 100 workers back underground at its Oak Grove complex in Alabama, in the second rehiring announcement from the producer in less than a week.

Donna Schmidt

“The callback was prompted by a modest improvement in current orders and in the market expectations going forward,” the company said.

A Cliffs spokesperson added that employees were due back on the job in early August and would bring the complex’s total number of employees up to about 250.

Oak Grove, located near Adger, is owned by Cliffs subsidiary Oak Grove Resources. According to federal data, the metallurgical coal mine produced almost 1 million tons in 2008.

Late last week, Cliffs recalled more than 100 workers to its Pinnacle and Green Ridge No. 1 mines in West Virginia.

Company spokesperson James Kosowski told ILN the callback was immediate, but it would be a week or two before all pre-employment protocols could be completed and the workers were underground again.

Green Ridge was idled in April, with Pinnacle idled shortly after. A skeleton crew had since been on hand at both mines despite the production stoppage, Cliffs said.

Last month, the producer revised sales volume expectations to about 1.5Mt for its North American coal business at an average price of $US100/t, but did not provide a timeframe for those figures.

"While we have begun to see preliminary signs of stabilisation in the North American steelmaking industry, we will continue to ensure our production and inventory are balanced with customer demand," Cliffs North American business unit president Don Gallagher said in early July.

Cliffs has a 45% stake of the Sonoma project in Queensland, which is anticipated to produce 3.1Mt this year at a 60:40 mix of thermal and metallurgical coal. Cliffs’ portfolio of mines in North America consists of six iron ore operations and two coking coal mines.

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