Archive | Minnesota Duluth Complex and Iron Range

Cliffs reports loss, but increased iron ore sales – by John Myers (Duluth news Tribune – April 27, 2017)

Cliffs Natural Resources lost $30 million in the first quarter of 2017, saying it spent more on efforts to reduce its debt and improve its long-term corporate health. The $30 million loss included a $72 million cost for restructuring debt in February. The company has cut its debt to about $1.6 billion compared to $2.5 billion at this time last year.

The company’s first quarter adjusted EBITDA — earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization — was $92 million, up 156 percent over last year. EBITDA is considered a good measure of a company’s current operational health.

Cliffs reported consolidated revenues of $462 million, up 51 percent from last year, due to increased sales and higher prices. The company’s U.S. iron ore pellet sales volume in the first quarter of 2017 was 3.1 million long tons, a 63 percent increase when compared to the first quarter of 2016 as a result of increased demand by its customers — domestic steel producers. Continue Reading →

STUDY: MINING INDUSTRY JOBS WORTH MORE THAN TOURISM – by John Myers (Hibbing Daily Tribune – April 20, 2017)

DULUTH — With claims by some mining critics that tourism is a more sustainable option than copper mining for northern Minnesota, and with the federal government mulling a moratorium on new mining near the Boundary Waters, industry officials have fired back with a new study that claims mining jobs still drive the regional economy.

Mining supporters say the study offers proof that mining and tourism can co-exist but that tourism doesn’t stand up to mining in terms of economic impact. Mining Minnesota, the copper-nickel industry trade group in Duluth, paid for and released a report Tuesday, April 18, by the Praxis Strategy Group that covered Cook,

Lake, St. Louis, Carlton, Koochiching and Itasca counties in northeastern Minnesota and Douglas County in Wisconsin. The study found current iron ore mining and directly related industries such as railroads and shipping employ 5,140 people earning $419 million annually, when all of the region’s operations are open and running. Continue Reading →

Cliffs CEO headlines Duluth mining conference – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – April 19, 2017)

Lourenco Goncalves had engineers and company executives laughing in their chairs at a mining conference Wednesday with his one-liners and brutally honest opinions of his competitors, but he said he’s deadly serious about trying to gain control of the former Essar Steel project in Nashwauk.

Goncalves, CEO of Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources, says his company’s is the only serious offer for the former Essar Steel Minnesota project that may go up for auction in a Delaware bankruptcy court next week.

Goncalves was speaking to the annual conference of the Minnesota chapter of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Continue Reading →

Cliffs, Chippewa Capital Partners make bids for the former Essar Steel Minnesota – by Dee DePass (Minneapolis Star Tribune – April 11, 2017)

Assets of the Iron Range facility are at stake.

Two firms, both already with interests on the Iron Range, have made bids for the holdings of the former Essar Steel Minnesota as a bankruptcy reorganization deadline nears.

An investor group called Chippewa Capital Partners submitted its bid to the bankruptcy court in Delaware for $250 million as part of a proposal to take over and complete the half-built taconite plant in the Nashwauk, Minn. Mesabi Metallics, the former Essar Steel Minnesota, said Chippewa is associated with the group that bought several properties from the bankrupt Magnetation.

Just as Chippewa made its play, the Ohio-based Cliffs Natural Resources — which operates Hibbing Taconite, United Taconite and Northshore Mining and has already bid for the mineral rights associated with the Nashwauk site — has offered $75 million to buy the assets of the former Essar project. That bid has not been filed with the court. Continue Reading →

Environmental lawsuits pile up as PolyMet mine crawls forward – by Dan Kraker (Minnesota Public Radio News – March 31, 2017)

There will be plenty of work in Minnesota in the coming months and years for environmental attorneys. Four lawsuits have already been filed that could potentially delay the PolyMet copper-nickel mining project proposed for northeastern Minnesota. And several more are expected if the state eventually grants the mine the permits it needs to begin construction.

The suits are a key tool for environmental groups trying to block the controversial project. Some of the plaintiffs, including the Sierra Club and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, are well-funded organizations and no strangers to litigation.

Others are small, grassroots groups, like the Save Lake Superior Association and Save our Sky Blue Waters, which along with the Duluth chapter of the Izaak Walton League filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s recent approval of a land exchange with PolyMet. Continue Reading →

COPPER-NICKEL GOES ON TRIAL – by Leah Ryan and Jerry Burnes (Mesabi Daily News – March 16, 2017)

DULUTH — With the federal government weighing a 20-year moratorium on mining activity in the Superior National Forest, Minnesotans took to the microphone for their side of the issue, essentially turning Thursday’s U.S. Forest Service hearing into copper-nickel’s most public trial.

Hundreds of people crowded into Symphony Hall at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center wearing their side on their sleeve. Mining’s supporters donned “We Support Mining” blue baseball hats and buttons, countered by T-shirts and stickers saying “We love the BWCA.” Thursday’s hearing was the culmination of the often tense, always at odds debate over copper-nickel mining at the edge the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely.

“There is a big crowd, and that tells me a lot of people find this important,” said Connie Cummins, supervisors of Superior National Forest, addressing the crowd before the hearing. Continue Reading →

Pro-development Minnesotans sue Governor over cancelled mine leases – by Andrew Topf ( – March 6, 2017)

In a case that appears to turn the logic of citizen actions against mine owners on its head, a group of Minnesota residents is suing the state and the Governor over a decision to revoke mineral leases.

While disgruntled residents opposed to mines usually go to court to try to stop the mine, the legal case in the Midwestern state centres around whether the state government and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton violated state law and the U.S Constitution by interfering with mineral lease renewals for Twin Metals Minnesota and Franconia Minerals, which are planning on mining copper and nickel in northern Minnesota.

Among the plaintiffs are a group calling itself Up North Jobs Inc., which aims to promote job growth and economic development in the area. Continue Reading →


ELY — Ely has always been a mining town. It was in the days when 177 people moved from the village of Florence in 1880 after ore was discovered and the community was mined through. It was when those residents named the town after mining executive Samuel B. Ely, a Michigander, who as legend has it, never stepped foot in the Vermilion Range.

And Ely cemented itself as a mining town when the Pioneer Mine — and 41 million tons of ore — opened in 1889. By the time it closed in 1967, 11 mines opened near the city’s limits.

What makes Ely unique from the others situated on the old Vermilion Range and the current Iron Range is that it has always been a tourist town, too. Even before 1978, when Congress established the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, people flocked to the northern edge of Minnesota for its pristine lakes and access to nature largely unbeknownst to the urban jungle of the metro. Continue Reading →

CLIFFS MARKS 170 YEARS OF MINING – by Jim Romsaas (Mesabi Daily News – February 21, 2017)


Founded by 11 men from Cleveland in 1847, Cliffs Natural Resources is now known as North America’s largest producer of iron ore pellets. Celebrating 170 years as a company in 2017, Cliffs has been independent for all of the company’s long history and has a very positive outlook for this year, as well.

“The significance of this milestone cannot be over-emphasized. How many U.S. companies can state that they have been instrumental in building and shaping our society since 1847? Not many,’’ said Lourenco Goncalves, chairman, president and CEO of Cliffs.

Cliffs, which has weathered the ups and downs of the industry and also world events, now has Minnesota operations at United Taconite (Eveleth), Hibbing Taconite, and Northshore Mining in Silver Bay. Continue Reading →

Cliffs profits bounce back with iron ore demand – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – February 9, 2017)

Cliffs Natural Resources, the nation’s largest supplier of taconite iron ore, rode the recovering domestic steel industry back to profitability in 2016, posting a net income of $199 million compared to a net loss of $748 million in 2015.

The Cleveland-based company on Thursday announced its revenues were $754 million last year, up 58 percent over a crippling 2015.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, Cliffs recorded a net income of $81 million, up from a net loss of $58 million for the last quarter the year before, according to the company’s quarterly report issued Thursday. Continue Reading →

Debate over copper mining near Boundary Waters heats up again – by Dan Kraker (Minnesota Public Radio News – February 2, 2017)

More than 50 protesters rallied outside the Duluth office of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan Thursday, condemning the Democratic congressman’s letter earlier this week calling on the Trump administration to overturn a decision that called for a potential 20-year ban on mining on national forest land within the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

If the administration follows through on Nolan’s request, it could rekindle the efforts of Twin Metals Minnesota to develop a massive underground copper-nickel mine near Ely and the southern edge of the Boundary Waters.

The project offers the tantalizing prospect of hundreds of good-paying jobs in a region of the state hard hit by a downturn in the iron mining industry recently. But opponents argue potential water pollution, and the creation of a mining district in the national forest, threatens Ely’s tourism-based economy. Continue Reading →

DAUDT ASKS TRUMP TO GREEN-LIGHT MINING – by Jerry Burnes (Mesabi Daily News – January 23, 2017)

In the first week of the new administration, Minnesota’s Iron Range could feel the impact of President Donald Trump, who on Monday took executive action to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Later in the day, Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt sent a letter to Trump asking him to reverse the Obama administration decisions to end mineral leases for Twin Metals, and reverse course on a proposed mining moratorium in Superior National Forest.

“We believe very strongly that we can access those natural resources safely,” Daudt said at a news conference Monday. “We know that the economy and jobs are dependent upon us growing the mining industry and the Range. We think we’ve got really good, safe opportunities to do that.” Continue Reading →

Mining progress will bring jobs, benefits to Minnesota – by Russell Hess (Post Bulletin – January 19, 2017)

Russell Hess, of Plainview, is political coordinator of the Laborers District Council of Minnesota and North Dakota and a board member of Jobs for Minnesotans.

There is no doubt that we all want to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It is an undisputed national treasure, and we’re fortunate that it is in our own backyard.

That said, anyone implying that potential mining activities would destroy this pristine area shows a lack of understanding of the strict existing environmental and regulatory protections at the state and federal levels.

Twin Metals Minnesota, the company for which the federal government denied renewal of its mineral leases, has yet to even propose a project. The federal leases in question have been in place for more than 50 years and have been twice renewed by the federal government without controversy and with acknowledgment that the leases pose no adverse environmental impacts. Continue Reading →

[Minnesota] THE IRONY AND HYPOCRISY OF A MINING BAN EFFORT – Editorial (Mesabi Daily News – January 14, 2017)

On Friday, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service filed with the Federal Register its intent to close off more than 234,000 acres in the Superior National Forest to mining activity. To do so, the request has to go through comment periods and an environmental review, with the Interior secretary giving the final decision.

The potential irony of that process should not be lost. In its actions the BLM and USFS circumvented years of federal due process for the very mining projects at risk of being blocked. That process, most notably denied to Twin Metals, will sound familiar: a proposal, comment periods and environmental reviews.

The hypocrisy should also not be lost.

This effort by the BLM and USFS seeks a two-year moratorium on new mining projects and ultimately a 20-year ban on mining in the Rainy River watershed near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Continue Reading →

Essar Conglomerate Faces $1 Billion Lawsuit From Minnesota Unit – by Jacqueline Palank and Jacquie McNish (Wall Street Journal – January 11, 2017)

Essar Steel Minnesota accuses parent of hindering iron-ore mine, processing plant

A new lawsuit seeks more than $1 billion in damages from Indian conglomerate Essar Group for alleged misconduct related to a stalled Minnesota iron-ore mine and processing plant.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Essar Steel Minnesota LLC in its chapter 11 case, outlines “a myriad of damaging actions” parent company Essar Global Fund Ltd. allegedly took with respect to the subsidiary.

These alleged actions “exacerbated ESML’s cash starved financial position” and included transferring millions of dollars to affiliated companies not working on construction of the Minnesota mine, for “absolutely no value” in return. Continue Reading →