Archive | Minnesota Duluth Complex and Iron Range

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 →

Battle escalates over mining moratorium near BWCAW – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – June 2, 2017)

Conservation, hunting and angling groups are battling back against U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s effort to undo a moratorium on mining on federal land near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Groups such as the Izaak Walton League of America and Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters kickstarted a campaign this week for supporters to call Nolan’s offices and tell the Democrat from Crosby to leave the two-year mining ban and a proposed environmental review in place.

On Thursday, Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters ratcheted up the debate by purchasing a full-page ad in the News Tribune. They’ve also scheduled a noon rally Friday in front of Nolan’s Duluth office. Continue Reading →

Minnesota officials tried to avoid another mining failure – by Don Davis (Duluth News Tribune – June 19, 2017)

ST. PAUL — Minnesota leaders hope a lease they are offering to a new mining company will reverse a decade of frustrating failure in one area they felt held lots of promise.

Officials who feel they were burned by Essar Steel Minnesota, which did not fulfill state taconite mining requirements, then declared bankruptcy, on Monday, June 19, folded what they hope are iron-clad guarantees into a new mineral lease. They hope the new mining company will produce taconite and turn it into an in-demand iron product where Essar Steel failed for years.

Also Monday, it appeared the White House is on the cusp of a major decision about whether to impose new restrictions on steel imports, a choice that has divided President Donald Trump’s administration while sparking global fears about a burgeoning trade war. Steel imports have been blamed for recent years’ economic woes on northeast Minnesota’s Iron Range, where taconite is told to produce steel elsewhere. Continue Reading →

Update: Judge approves Essar bankruptcy settlement – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – June 13, 2017)

Chippewa Capital Partners has reached an agreement with Gov. Mark Dayton over mineral leases at the former Essar Steel Minnesota project in Nashwauk, removing one of the last obstacles to a bankruptcy settlement approved this morning in Delaware.

The agreement allows Chippewa — a joint venture of London steel and energy conglomerate GFG Alliance and Roanoke, Va., billionaire Tom Clarke — to take over the bankrupt, half-built taconite iron ore mine and processing center, restart construction and start mining and processing ore by 2020.

India-based Essar pumped $1.8 billion into the Nashwauk project over seven years but then walked away in late 2015, out of cash and more than $1 billion in debt, filing for bankruptcy last July. Continue Reading →

Mining interests, partners seek to polish Iron Range’s image – by Peter Passi (Duluth News Tribune – May 25, 2017)

Some of the Northland’s most prominent players aim to reboot the Iron Range’s image with a new promotional publication unveiled during a press conference at Glensheen Mansion Thursday morning.

The glossy 16-page magazine is meant to burnish the Range’s reputation, said Mark Phillips, commissioner of the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board.

Often, Phillips said he encounters “very antiquated visions of the region” that date back to the days of miners working with picks and shovels instead of state-of-the-art technology. He said the notion of the Range as an economically depressed area also seems to persist. Continue Reading →

United Taconite opens new iron pellet plant on Iron Range – by Dee DePass (Minneapolis Star Tribune – May 17, 2017)

The $75 million investment in Forbes, Minn., signals another economic bump for Iron Range.

In another positive sign for Minnesota’s Iron Range, the parent company of United Taconite has started production at its new $75 million Mustang “superflux” pellet plant in Forbes, Minn.

Ohio-based Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. said the project “was flawlessly executed,” on budget and on schedule after nine months of construction. And firing up the plant equipment had no hiccups on its first day.

“Building a new facility on budget, without any lost-time accidents, and in only nine months through the Minnesota winter is no small undertaking,” said Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves. Continue Reading →