[Minnesota] Mine study still a resource – by Charles Ramsay (Mesabi Daily News – July 30, 2013)


Document a framework for how future of industry might look

The update came out in early February. The main author, Jim Skurla, director of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics’ Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Minnesota Duluth, noted in a recent phone interview from Duluth that while the worldwide economy and its need for steel “had slowed down a bit” recently, especially in China, it didn’t necessarily indicate a decline in demand for the metal.

“It really was red hot there for awhile,” he said of the world economy, but its steel demand has continued to be “cyclical.”

The study found, in the 2010 data, that Northeastern Minnesota’s mining industry made up 30 percent of the region’s economy, down from 33 percent found by the original study done with 2007 data. The newer iron mining operations, as well as the possibilities with the non-ferrous mining operations, project almost a doubling of workers and revenues in mining if all projects advance.

Iron mining had an impact of about $3 billion to the state’s economy in the 2010 data, with 3,900 employees directly involved and a total of 11,000 employees, including miners, directly or indirectly employed with suppliers or resulting from additional household spending. For every mining job in the industry, another 1.8 jobs are created directly or indirectly, the study found.

While some people have criticized the study for not including other aspects of mining, such as with the environment or its value, Skurla responded that those portions were not the intent of the update.

“It’s not a cost benefit analysis,” he explained, but rather, “it was an economic impact study.”

Trying to figure out what an object or commodity is worth or not in an economy can vary among people. “It’s subjective,” he added.

Looking at data from 2011, he said mining activity had increased a bit, and there probably should be a mining economic impact study done every five years or so.

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