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Steelworkers at two Minn. mines prepare to strike

taconite pellets
taconite pellets

HIBBING, Minn. (AP) — Steelworkers at two Iron Range taconite mines say they're prepared to strike as soon as Saturday.

The labor contracts at Hibbing Taconite and United Taconite expire at midnight Friday. Negotiations between union leaders and officials of Cliffs Natural Resources have been ongoing in Pittsburgh since early August.

The Hibbing Tribune reports that Cliffs officials plan to keep the mines operating If a strike happens. Cliffs spokeswoman Sandy Karnowski says temporary replacement workers are on stand-by for both Hibbing Taconite and United Taconite.

Nearly 1,100 steelworkers between the two mines are covered by the expiring contract. The agreement was reached on that pact just hours before the deadline four years ago.

Wade Bexell, treasurer of United Steelworkers Local 2705, says they're getting prepared for whatever comes.