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.

The U.S. Commerce Department has for months been evaluating whether steel imports pose a threat to national security, and it is expected within days to present Trump with its finding and a recommendation. Trump could quickly adopt its prescription or decide on a different course.

Monday’s news from Washington and St. Paul was good for nearly 6,000 jobs supported by the Minnesota mining industry. State mines produced $3.27 billion worth of minerals last year, mostly iron ore-taconite.

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