By CHRISTIE BLECK
For The Daily News
MARQUETTE - Cliffs Natural Resources announced today it has entered into a revised commercial agreement with ArcelorMittal USA inc., to supply iron ore pellets for two more years through the end of January 2017, with a mutual option to extend for a third year.
Cliffs and ArcelorMittal also have extended their joint partnership for the Empire Mine, located in Palmer.
Cliffs previously announced the pending closure of the mine, which did not have a customer for pellet production beyond this year until the agreement was reached with ArcelorMittal.
"It is good news," said Dale Hemmila, Cliffs director of public affairs-North America. "Obviously, here at the mine there are a lot of smiling faces this morning."
Hemmila said the extension provides a huge economic boost for Marquette County and shows ArcelorMittal's faith the mine can produce a "high-quality, competitive product."
The partnership arrangement was scheduled to expire automatically in December without the mutual agreement of both companies to extend.
"Empire is still a relatively mature mine," Hemmila said, "and economically accessible ore is limited at this point."
Hemmila said the mine employs about 600 people.
P. Kelly Tompkins, Cliffs executive vice president-external affairs and president of Global Commercial, said in a news release, "This agreement was made possible by the close working relationships we have with ArchelorMittal, both at the commercial and operational level."