How quickly a boom can bust

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for many folks on the Iron Range.

Yesterday, U.S. Steel announced it was laying off 400 people at its taconite plant in Keewatin. Just 10 months ago in February, the company announced a $300 million expansion at the plant.

A quick trip through the headlines shows how quickly things can change.

June

Range boom triggers housing concerns

July

Mining giant Cliffs gets bigger with merger – The proposed $2.7 billion merger was called of a few weeks ago.

September

Essar Steel breaks ground on Nashwauk plant

Renewable fuel plant would create jobs, coal alternative

October

Furnances at two taconite mines idled by downturn in steel market

November

Iron Range sees hope in Chinese stimulus plan

Cliff’s (Hibbing Taconite and Eveleth’s United Taconite) warns of possible layoffs

Of course, there are still plenty of projects silently moving forward and many city councils and economic development agencies working hard to create new jobs up north. But as the taconite industry goes, so goes prosperity for many people on the Range.

  • http://erikhare.wordpress.com/ Erik Hare

    I’m sorry, but it sounds as though they were riding the commodities bubble that came in 2006 or 2007 (depending who you ask). That bubble was a reflection of the real estate bubble, itself a reflection of the tech bubble. The progression was simply about people who made a lot of money off of crap trying to find safe harbors to preserve it.

    How did the steel companies not understand this? How is it that so many people didn’t see the inevitable crash coming?

    I do not understand how such idiotic people get to run large companies. I’m out here looking for steady employment, and jerks like this get a golden parachute when the company goes belly up.

    This is ridiculous.

  • Sarah E

    I get the commodities bubble business, but I also really think that a revival of American steel production might have a chance if people are serious about the re-growth of American manufacturing (auto or rail or new!innovation!) and keeping our business local this time around, be it for reasons of boosting the domestic economy or sustainability issues that arise from long distance shipping.