Archive | Minnesota Duluth Complex and Iron Range

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 →

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan tries to balance mining support with work on climate change – by Maya Rao (Minneapolis Star Tribune – July 13, 2017)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is embracing the fight against climate change in Congress even as he faces criticism from environmentalists back home for his support of local mining interests.

In a congressional hearing on Friday, the northeastern Minnesota DFLer will tout his bill to complete a land swap that would benefit the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine. Nolan also recently joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers called the Climate Solutions Caucus, and he maintains that there’s no contradiction between reducing carbon emissions and championing a mining project that has drawn opposition from a range of environmental groups.

“I am convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever that 21st-century state-of-the-art mining which is compliant with strong environmental rules and regulations, unlike the mining of the past, is part of a foundation to address global warming and reduce the carbon footprint,” Nolan said in an interview. Continue Reading →

Find solutions to support both mining and the environment – by Adam Ulbricht (St. Cloud Times – July 11, 2017)

Minnesota has a rich history of industry that has shaped the character of our state. From the Great Northern Railroad to the Minneapolis flour mills to premiere medical facilities, our state has contributed to the progress of the United States. But perhaps no other industry in Minnesota has played a larger role for that progress beginning in the mid-19th Century than that of mining.

I recently had the pleasure of spending time on two of our state’s three iron ranges. Here I got a first-hand look at the past and present of this proud industry. Coming from Central Minnesota, I share a mutual respect for mining given our own tradition of being a supplier of granite.

Minnesota’s commercial iron ore mining history dates back to 1884 with the opening of the Soudan Mine near the town of Tower on the Vermilion Range. The “Cadillac” of mines first started as an open pit but operations moved underground to capture the rich ore. By the time the mine closed in 1962, they had reached 2,341 feet below the surface, marking the deepest point in our state! Continue Reading →

[Minnesota Iron Range] OUR VIEWS: ENOUGH ALREADY: IT ENDS IN VIRGINIA (Mesabi Daily News Editorial – June 28, 2017)

Make no mistake about it, the Iron Range knows this is an attack on mining and
it will have no more of it. The region and its miners, laborers, businesses,
residents — everyone here — is committed to meeting and exceeding the standards
of the federal government’s environmental reviews. We are not here to destroy
the land we use everyday.

We have a deep pride in our history of mining. We helped the United States win
wars over dictators, the iron ore leaving here by train helps fuel the economy
of Duluth and Two Harbors. It builds safe, reliable infrastructure from U.S.-made
steel, and the minerals this region wants to mine will provide for the tech boom
in Silicon Valley. (Mesabi Daily News Editorial)

The Iron Range and its rich history of mining is in a fight for its future, and the deck is stacked against it.

There’s overreaching actions taken by a lame duck administration, there’s delays forced by lawsuit after lawsuit from deep-pocketed environmental groups, and there’s scare tactics to steer popular opinion against the region’s way of life. Enough is enough: It ends here. It started here, and the fight will end here.

The Iron Range is done being paraded around in the three-ring circus of hearings, resolutions and comment periods, which are really nothing more than putting the everyday Iron Ranger on trial by a jury of its uniformed peers. Continue Reading →

CLIFFS SHOWS IT’S FOR REAL – by Jerry Burnes (Mesabi Daily News – June 28, 2017)

Lourenco Goncalves isn’t one for the quiet retreat, but anyone within shouting distance of the Iron Range already knew that. The chairman, president and CEO of Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources is a dying breed. As the alpha CEO becomes a thing of the past — replaced by the more unimposing figures crafted by Silicon Valley — Goncalves remains a thunderous presence atop one the Iron Range’s most successful companies.

So in April, when the CEO stood in front of local stakeholders in Chisholm and asked why it’s so hard to believe his message, the point should have resonated: Why is it so hard for the business community take him at his word? To him, the promises have been filled, the checks written, and yet, there’s work left to be done on the Iron Range.

For the past half-decade, investors, Wall Street and industry types cautiously eyed Cliffs as it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and clawed its way back to solvency. That battle kept the company, Goncalves said, focused on the Cliffs’ core operations as it shed coal mines and exited the Canadian iron ore scene. Continue Reading →

[Minnesota] MINING MAKE ITS MOVES D.C. – by Jerry Burnes (Mesabi Daily News – June 27, 2017)

MOUNTAIN IRON/ELY — For most of the first half of 2017, the Iron Range has remained laser-focused on its goals in Washington, D.C.

Far from the now-bustling taconite mines and majestic scenery of northeastern Minnesota is where the real political fight to death is taking place. That might not be hyperbole either: What’s happening in Washington is — quite possibly — one of the most important issues the Iron Range has ever faced.

In December 2016, a little more than a month before it was phased out, the Obama administration took unparalleled steps on two actions that could stunt growth in the region. In one action, the administration denied leases to Twin Metals and its potential underground copper-nickel mine near Ely and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In the second, it placed a two-year moratorium on mining for 234,000 acres of land in the Superior National Forest near the BWCAW, with the intent of studying industrial impacts on the watershed and consider a 20-year ban on those activities. Continue Reading →