Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. will resume construction of its hot-briquetted iron (HBI) plant in Toledo, Ohio, and accelerate the restart of its Tilden mining operations in Michigan. The construction of the Toledo HBI plant was temporarily shut down on March 20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company has now begun the process of remobilizing the workforce to complete the project. Due to mandatory social distancing and other newly implemented safety-related measures limiting the number of workers allowed to be present simultaneously on the job, construction is now expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

The Tilden mine primarily supplies the company’s own AK Steel facilities in Middletown, Ohio, and Dearborn, Mich. The mine was idled in mid-April, with a restart previously expected in July. Cleveland-Cliffs now plans to restart Tilden later this month. The earlier restart of Tilden comes in response to a faster improvement in steel demand from AK Steel’s clients than initially anticipated, particularly in the automotive sector.

“The demand for our steel, iron ore and metallics products has recovered dramatically over the past month,” said Lourenco Goncalves, Cleveland-Cliffs’ chairman, president and CEO. “In light of this, we are restarting Toledo and Tilden sooner than we originally expected.”

The company has already restarted numerous other previously idled facilities, including Precision Partners, AK Tube, Mansfield Works and the Dearborn downstream facilities.