Cliffs Natural Resources’ Empire Mine may not be closing after all.

Today, Cliffs made the announcement that it has entered into a revised commercial agreement with ArcelorMittal USA Inc. to supply iron ore pellets for an additional two years through the end of January 2017. The deal also includes a mutual option to extend services for a third year.

Cliffs had previously announced an impending closure of the Empire Mine in Palmer due to the fact that it did not have a customer for pellet production beyond 2014. The partnership arrangement was scheduled to expire in December 2014, without the mutual agreement of both companies to extend. With this decision, Cliffs and ArcelorMittal will extend the life of this mining operation into 2016.

P. Kelly Tompkins, Cliffs’ Executive Vice President – External Affairs & President Global Commercial, said, “This agreement was made possible by the close working relationships we have with ArcelorMittal, both at the commercial and operational level. Importantly, this extension builds upon the long-term customer and partner relationship we have with ArcelorMittal particularly at the Empire Mine. We are pleased to continue as a reliable supplier of high-quality iron ore pellets to one of ArcelorMittal USA’s facilities which is also good news for our dedicated employees who have demonstrated that Empire remains a safe, viable producer of high-quality, cost competitive pellets.”

Cliffs has a 79 percent ownership of Empire and a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal USA has retained the remaining 21 percent ownership with limited rights and obligations.

Cliffs is maintaining its 2014 full-year sales and production volume expectation of 22 – 23 million tons from its U.S. Iron Ore business. Cliffs’ full-year 2014 U.S. Iron Ore cash-cost-per-ton expectation is $65 – $70. The Company said that this extension would require very limited capital.