Archive | Minnesota Duluth Complex and Iron Range

Mining foe: No. No matter what; Twin Metals project, MINER Act injected into Joint Powers meeting – by Tom Coombe (The Ely Echo – December 8, 2017)

An item that wasn’t even on the agenda stirred some of the most passionate discussion at Monday’s sit-down with area legislators and other key officials.

One of the area’s leading opponents of copper-nickel mining, Ely business owner Steve Piragis, declared that he’d continue to oppose the Twin Metals Minnesota project even if federal regulators conclude it would “meet or exceed” current environmental standards.

That came during a mini-debate with Aurora Mayor-Elect Dave Lislegard and was spawned by discussion of the MINER Act, legislation approved just days earlier by the U.S. House of Representatives. As the bill advanced by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) awaits action in the Senate, Elyite Becky Rom railed against it in an appeal to aides of both U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D), and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Continue Reading →

Controversial measures to clear way for more Minnesota mining spark debate in U.S. House – by May Rao (Minneapolis Star Tribune – November 29, 2017)

WASHINGTON – Two controversial measures from Minnesota congressmen, both of which would ease the way for mining expansion in northeastern Minnesota, have divided the state’s congressional delegation while spurring a broader environmental debate in the U.S. House.

The House on Tuesday passed legislation by DFL Rep. Rick Nolan that would finalize a land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service and PolyMet Mining. Nolan said his bill is key to advancing PolyMet’s proposed northeastern Minnesota copper-nickel mining project, with 6,690 acres of private land becoming public while 6,650 acres of contiguous forest and wetlands would fall under PolyMet’s control.

“This bill is a win for taxpayers, for the environment, and for good-paying jobs,” Nolan said. Other prominent DFLers, including Gov. Mark Dayton, have supported Nolan’s proposal, although it does not currently have a companion bill in the U.S. Senate. Continue Reading →

IRON MINING ASSOCIATION OF MINNESOTA NEWS RELEASE: Iron mining contributed $96 million to region in 2017 (November 21, 2017)

More than $96 million from iron mining taxes went back into the communities in 2017, according to the Department of Revenue’s 2017 Mining Tax Guide which was released yesterday.

These tax dollars were distributed in 2017 based on the 2016 production year. The report shows Minnesota’s iron mines produced more than 29 million tons of ore in 2016 – the lowest production since 2011.

“This just goes to show what a huge impact Minnesota’s iron mining industry has on our region,” said Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) President Kelsey Johnson, noting that global pressures aided in the temporary idling of more than half of the iron mining facilities in Minnesota in 2016. Today, all the pellet producing facilities are running once again and operating at full capacity. Continue Reading →

[Minnesota Mining] Fighting for mining in D.C. – by Tom Coombe (Ely Echo – November 1, 2017)

Leaders of a grassroots pro-mining organization say they’re making progress in the nation’s capital – one meeting at a time. Fight for Mining Minnesota made its presence felt in Washington, D.C. this week, as three members of the group – including former Ely Mayor Joe Baltich -lobbied members of Congress, Congressional aides and reached out to the Trump administration.

The visit wasn’t linked to specific legislation or a committee hearing. Instead, Baltich joined former Elyites and FMM leaders Cindy and John Stene to connect and reconnect with key decision makers.

“All of them gave us hope,” said Baltich. “They tell us ‘we’re moving, maybe not moving as fast as you guys would like us to but we’re moving.’ There are so many hoops to jump through, but we’re getting there.” Continue Reading →

[Northern Minnesota Mining] APOLOGY ACCEPTED. BUT WAS IT SINCERE? – by Sen. David Tomassoni (Hibbing Daily Tribune – October 27, 2017)

The whole incident reported in the New York Times magazine makes me believe that the environmental extremist movement led by Becky Rom and her husband, Reid Carron, showed their true colors.

They aren’t only opposed to copper, nickel and precious metals mining. They want to stop all mining, iron ore mining included. They probably don’t like logging or farming, either.

It came to me as I was sitting on my deck drinking a beer (metal chair, a byproduct of mining; wooden deck, from logging; beer, from hops and grains from farming). I thought, now what’s wrong with sitting on my deck and drinking a beer. Then I thought, I wonder if the anti-mining people have metal chairs on their decks? Continue Reading →

ON THE ARTICLE ON MINING PUBLISHED THIS PAST WEEK IN THE NEW YORK TIMES – by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Mesabi Daily News – October 16, 2017)

My family is from Ely, and my grandpa spent most of his life working 1,500 feet underground in the iron ore mines. My dad and his brother also spent some time working in the mines. The way several people quoted in the article described the miners is just not accurate and I think it is important for people to know that.

Mining is a critical part of the economy in northern Minnesota. There have been and will always be disagreements on mining issues, and people are free to express their opinions. But no one should be making disrespectful comments. If they do that, they haven’t met Dan Hill. And they haven’t met my grandpa. Here are their stories:

I met Dan Hill in December of 2015 when we brought together miners and mining company executives to meet with the President’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough about steel dumping from China and the negative effect it was having on the Range. In front of a long table of at least 50 people, Dan — a long time Range resident who was then laid off — was one of the last to speak. Continue Reading →

Leaders, Groups, and Unions Upset with Comments About Miners in Magazine Article (ABC Eyewitness News – October 13, 2017)

Union leaders, DFL officials, and environmental groups are upset after two well-known advocates were quoted with some disdainful comments about miners in a piece to be published in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

Becky Rom and Reid Carron are leaders in the Save the Boundary Waters Campaign. They are quoted by many news media about the issue of potential precious metals mining in the region.

In the latest article, written by Reid Forgrave for the New York Times Magazine, they comment on the mining community. Rom said, “Danny Forsman drives to the mine in his truck, comes home and watches TV, and doesn’t know this world exists.” Continue Reading →

In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness – by Reid Forgrave (New York Times – October 12, 2017)

Proposed mines near the Boundary Waters have become the latest front in the fight over who gets to profit from America’s natural resources.

Minnesota is home to some of the world’s most ancient rocks, as old as 3.5 billion years. Earth has been around for only 4.5 billion years. About 2.7 billion years ago, basalt lava flowed underwater near what’s now the state’s border with Canada; the lava hardened, and the creep of geologic time turned it into a bedrock of greenstone and granite.

On top of it, a layer of sedimentary rock rich in iron ore formed nearly two million years ago, when the region was ocean floor. Then a billion years ago, Earth’s crust cracked open, producing a 50-mile-wide fissure stretching from Lake Superior to Kansas. For the next 100 million years, lava bubbled up into what geologists call the Midcontinent Rift, forming a mineral deposit filled with copper and nickel.

Settlers first made their way to the area in 1865 in a fruitless search for gold. What they did find was iron ore, and lots of it. Rails were laid for iron-ore transport, and the town of Ely was founded a few years later, in 1888. Continue Reading →

MOVING MOUNTAINS FOR AN IRON RANGE FUTURE – by Aaron Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – September 24, 2017)

Aaron J. Brown is an author and community college instructor from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio (

Soon the Hull Rust Mine View in historic North Hibbing will be closed for good, set to reopen next year at a new location to the east. Shortly thereafter Hibbing Taconite will blow to bits the very mountain of taconite on which the viewing stand sits to send the iron ore on its way to become steel.

A quick review of Iron Range history shows that such displacement is hardly new. They call Hibbing, after all, “The Town That Moved,” relocated some ninety years ago to accommodate mining in the same North Hibbing area where Hibbing Taconite will expand its pit.

Similar movements happened this summer as the state relocated Highway 5 near Chisholm for mining. Continue Reading →

The dam debate: PolyMet tailings basin dams are key point in upcoming permits – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – August 28, 2017)

HOYT LAKES — Of the bad things that could happen once PolyMet starts running Minnesota’s first-ever copper mine, critics say, among the worst would be a catastrophic breach of the tailings basin dam.

A hulking, man-made earthen dike that will stretch for miles and reach 252 feet high when finished, the dam will hold back millions of gallons of water mixed in a slurry with finely ground rock left over after crushing and processing — after the copper, nickel and other valuable metals are extracted.

Much of that waste rock will be as small as grains of beach sand. In theory, the stuff will settle into the basin, and as more is pumped in, the dams will be raised in steps, 20 feet at a time, over the 20-year life of the mine. Continue Reading →

The green economy needs Minnesota mining – by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (Minneapolis Star Tribune – August 9, 2017)

Rick Nolan, a Democrat, represents Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House.

Counterpoint: Copper and nickel play a role in today’s climate fight, so why not mine them safely right here? That’s what my land exchange is about.

Mining copper and nickel on Minnesota’s Iron Range and addressing global climate change are compatible, complementary and essential to our way of life. We have the brains, the technology and the need to do both.

If we attempt to do one without the other, we will end up with neither (“PolyMet is just feeding Minnesotans a line on proposed mine,” July 21). The survival of humankind rests on our willingness to embrace all of the knowledge and resources at our disposal to reverse climate change — including the vast deposits of strategic minerals in northeastern Minnesota. We owe future generations no less.

In fact, there would be no viable green economy and no effective means to reverse climate change without mining. Consider the rapid development and deployment of electric and hybrid vehicles. Continue Reading →

Minnesota Grand Rapids ore will make pig iron in Ohio – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – August 1, 2017)

Iron ore concentrate from Minnesota will go to make pig iron in Lorain, Ohio under a deal reached between fledgling ERP Iron Ore and Republic Steel.

Under the agreement ERP will produce concentrated ore at its recently acquired Magnetation operations outside Grand Rapids, move it by rail to its Reynolds, Ind. plant to be baked into pellets and then ship those pellets to Ohio to be made into pig iron.

The two companies will be joint owners of the new pig-iron plant to be built on the site of a now-shuttered Republic blast furnace mill. Continue Reading →

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer: Why I’m pushing to preserve mining in northern Minnesota – by Tom Emmer (Minneapolis Star Tribune – August 1, 2017)

Tom Emmer, a Republican, represents Minnesota’s Sixth District in the U.S. House.

Minnesota is an amazing state with an abundance of natural resources and one of the best-educated and -motivated workforces in the world. We Minnesotans not only work hard, we play hard. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we make the most of everything our state has to offer.

For many Minnesotans, mining has been a way of life since the early 1800s. Although the way we mine has changed dramatically over the years, mining is even more important today to the future of our state and our country.  In fact, one of the largest precious-metals deposits in the world has been discovered in Minnesota. This is why it is imperative that we preserve and celebrate mining in our state, not eliminate its future. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always a shared priority with the Obama administration.

When the Superior National Forest was established in 1909 — and later when the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was established in 1978 — there was an express agreement between the federal government and the state of Minnesota that certain activities like mining and logging could continue in the Superior National Forest. Continue Reading →

Minnesota mining’s place in American history: Soudan state park showcases mining’s impact on country – by Lisa Kaczke Duluth News Tribune – July 22, 2017)

SOUDAN — Imagine walking three-quarters of a mile through a mine tunnel in complete darkness to find iron ore, park interpreter James Juip tells the tour group. The lights click off to help people imagine that scenario and the 20 people stand in darkness at level 27 of the Soudan Underground Mine, unable to see each other or Juip at 2,341 feet below the surface of the Earth.

Standing on the last level to be mined before Minnesota’s first iron ore mine closed in 1962, Juip lights a candle in the darkness. Its flame only extends to a few faces near him, leaving the rest of the group still in the dark. He places the candle and sconce on his hard hat, similar to how miners would have placed a candle on their soft leather cap before electricity, freeing their hands to mine the ore.

“By the light of one candle, it would be the job of a crew of three men to find the iron that’s hidden here in the wall, drill it, blast it and get it out of here,” Juip told the tour group on July 13. Continue Reading →

In the age of fake news, making up facts is now part of the anti-mining rhetoric (The Ely Echo – July 16, 2017)

The anti-mining crowd must be getting nervous. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) has put together legislation to help get the PolyMet land exchange with the Forest Service completed soon. And, he’s still pushing for the feds to renew the leases for Twin Metals Minnesota.

In Ely on a barnstorming tour, Nolan accompanied Republican Representatives Gosar, Emmer and Westerman to get a first-hand look at what Twin Metals is proposing for a copper-nickel mine south of Ely.

Back in DC, the four congressmen sent a letter signed by a total of 26 members of Congress to urge the secretaries of the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to rescind the federal land withdrawal proposal and renew Twin Metals’ federal leases. Continue Reading →