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Northshore is hiring

The situation at Northshore Mining Co. continues to show signs of improvement with the company looking to hire up to 20 people for its Silver Bay and Babbitt plants next month.

And more could follow in early 2010.

"These are all good-paying jobs," said Maureen Talarico, a spokeswoman for Cliffs Natural Resources, which owns Northshore Mining Co.

The jobs are for plant operations and plant maintenance at Silver Bay and for mine operations and mine maintenance at Babbitt. Applicants are asked to apply online at www.cliffsnr.com.

"Right now we're anticipating hiring between 15 and 20 people in December and perhaps more new hires in the first quarter of 2010, as long as pellet demand remains where we anticipate it to be," Talarico said.

Some are openings created by retirements, some are added positions as demand for iron ore pellets shows a slight increase. The demand means the company needs to restock its inventory, which was reduced as demand for pellets softened earlier in the year.

"We don't know if the worst is over," Talarico said. "Consumer confidence is needed. People have to be reinvesting."

Because of that uncertainty, the company is proceeding cautiously.

"We don't want to flood the market with pellets nobody wants to buy," Talarico said.

Northshore's move to hire workers comes after idled workers were called back to the two plants July 5 after a three-month plant shutdown.

More good news came for Cliffs in recent days when United Taconite Co., also owned by Cliffs, returned more than 500 employees to full-time status at its operations in Forbes and Eveleth. Earlier in the year, workers had agreed to 32-hour workweeks to avoid layoffs.

But Hibbing Taconite, which Cliffs manages and partially owns, has been shut down since May when about 500 workers were laid off. Cliffs doesn't plan to restart the plant until the start of the second quarter of 2010, Talarico said.

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