VIRGINIA, Minn. (AP) - The chief executive of Cliffs Natural Resources says he'll close one of his operations on Minnesota's Iron Range if an Essar Steel taconite plant under construction in Nashwauk goes into production.

Lourenco Goncalves says if the Essar Steel plant goes online, he'll shut down a Cliffs plant in Minnesota the same day.

Essar Minnesota CEO Madhu Vuppuluri says he's very saddened to hear that statement. He says business leaders shouldn't speak so casually about something that could have such an impact on their employees.

The $1.9 billion Essar project is scheduled to begin producing taconite pellets late next year.

Goncalves says Essar hasn't been repaying the subsidies the state gave it to build the plant. He compares it to illegally subsidized foreign steel imports.