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      Cliffs opening for tours of Empire and Tilden mines

      After a year-long hiatus, Cliffs Natural Resources is bringing back their mine tours.

      Chances are you've been on one of them if you've lived in the area long enough. This particular tour, though, operated a little differently from the rest of the season.

      "Each year we kick off the public tours with a VIP tour which consists of community leaders in our area and we basically ask them to go through as a dry run on the tour and offer any suggestions or comments that they might have." said Cliffs District Manager for Public Affairs Jennifer Huetter.

      After an introductory video, the tour ventured out to the Empire Mine Pit Overlook.

      Once the group saw where the mining happened, they were moved inside the Tilden Mine Plant to see every step of the refinement process in action.

      Along the way tour guides gave out relevant information and historical anecdotes, part of a process Huetter says gives the tour the perfect balance of historical and contemporary learning.

      "There's a mix of both the history and current mining operations. The U.P. has a rich mining ore history. So this tour offers a really good opportunity to learn a lot about that and then also see how its changed into our current mining operations" said Huetter.

      Tour participants said the tour put both the scope of Cliffs Natural Resources' operations and its role in the community in perspective.

      "I didn't realize it was this big of footprint. They've always been a good company to work with and work for and I think they're a good asset to our community." said local business owner Stacey Willey.

      Tours officially begin Tuesday and last until August 23rd. Tickets are $15 regardless of age.

      Children as young as 10 years old are allowed to attend as long as they are accompanied by an adult.