Cliffs Natural Resources scraps Mich. plant plans

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PALMER, Mich. (AP) -- A company is scrapping plans to build a plant in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to supply raw materials for a type of mill that makes steel.

Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced Tuesday that it will dissolve its Michigan Iron Nuggets joint venture with Japan-based Kobe Steel. Plans for the Marquette County plant that could have produced about 500,000 tons of iron ore nuggets a year were announced in 2007.

The company says it studied the commercial viability of the process and concluded that the project involving the Empire Mine should end.

Cliffs says it had fewer than 10 employees exclusively working on the venture.

At the time the project was announced, officials said plant construction would create 300 to 500 short-term jobs and extend the life of the Empire Mine.