Archive | Minnesota Duluth Complex and Iron Range

Trump touts ‘America first’ policies in Duluth warehouse – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – June 20, 2018)

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

President Donald Trump on Wednesday spent more than an hour in a Duluth harborfront warehouse talking about iron ore and copper mining, trade and his relentless effort to cut government regulations.

In one of his patented “roundtable” discussions, Trump was in friendly territory with about 200 supporters — many of them representing mining, construction and shipping interests — gathered in a spruced-up Lake Superior Warehousing building in the shadow of the Blatnik Bridge.

Trump talked about renegotiating trade deals to put American interests first, and he praised his administration’s efforts to slash government regulations across the breadth of the nation’s economy, including mining. Continue Reading →

Bust to boom: Minnesota’s Iron Range revives just as trade war looms – by Dee Depass (Minneapolis Star Tribune – June 19, 2018)

https://pilotonline.com/

HIBBING, Minn. — The taconite mines are back in action, factories are expanding and new stores and restaurants are popping up from Grand Rapids to Silver Bay.

Minnesota’s Iron Range is experiencing an economic revival that seemed unlikely as recently as two years ago, when idled mines and job losses battered the region.

“Obviously the entire economy up here rotates around the mines. So if the mines are doing good, then we all do good,” said Erik Leitz, who with his wife opened the BoomTown Brewery & Woodfire Grill in Hibbing six months ago. A newfound optimism will greet President Donald Trump when he makes his first visit to northern Minnesota on Wednesday. Continue Reading →

Editorial counterpoint: On mining, let’s follow facts and the law – by Anne Williamson (Minneapolis Star Tribune – June 19, 2018)

http://www.startribune.com/

Anne Williamson is vice president of environment and sustainability for Twin Metals Minnesota.

The June 10 editorial “Mining near BWCA is risky business” expressed concern about recent information released by Twin Metals Minnesota regarding the underground copper-nickel mining project in northeastern Minnesota that the company is designing.

Twin Metals recognizes environmental protection and conservation as a core value. It’s only natural. After all, we live here, grew up here and have family here. And that is why we are designing a project proposal that will meet all state and federal environmental laws and protective standards.

Twin Metals also agrees with the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s call for “agencies to conduct a rigorous, technology-driven and independent analysis” of the proposal. Continue Reading →

HISTORY ECHOES THROUGH IRON RANGE POLITICS, EVEN IF WE FORGET – by Aaron Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – June 3, 2018)

http://www.hibbingmn.com/

In 1887, the Merritt Brothers and a crew led by Capt. J.A. Nichols discovered rich hematite ore under 14 feet of mud near the future townsite of Mountain Iron. After three years of wading through stinking mosquito swamps, alternating with hellish winter conditions, these men turned hope of discovering the Mesabi Range into reality.

Almost 30 years later, in 1916, Slovenian immigrant Joe Greeni stood in line to find out how much he’d earn in pay that week. He would utter the words “To hell with such wages. We’ve been robbed long enough. It’s time to strike.” Thousands would join him, shutting down all the mines on the Mesabi.

These moments shaped Iron Range history, leading to the Iron Range present. Not because they were successful at first. The Merritts would be undercut by John D. Rockefeller. The IWW strike of 1916 would be broken. Instead, these events reflect the twin human desires for materials and quality of life that still spark political action today. Continue Reading →

Opinion: Rushing to Ruin the Boundary Waters Wilderness – by Richard Moe (New York Times – May 17, 2018)

https://www.nytimes.com/

Minnesota prides itself on being “the Land of 10,000 Lakes.” At least 1,100 lie in the far northeastern part of the state, along the border with Canada, where more than a million acres of pristine waters and unspoiled woodlands are interspersed with canyons, steep cliffs and huge rock formations shaped by glaciers during the last ice age.

Today this region, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, looks almost exactly as it appeared 10,000 years ago when Paleo-Indians lived there.

Sigurd Olson, the naturalist and writer who guided there for three decades, called it “the most beautiful lake country on the continent.” Few who see it would disagree. Today it is the most visited wilderness area in the United States. Continue Reading →

Prospect of growth intensifies debate about PolyMet tailings dam – by Josephine Marcotty (Minneapolis Star Tribune – April 7, 2018)

http://www.startribune.com/

Questions over whether the state is demanding the highest possible environmental and safety standards in the rebirth of a 1950s-era tailings dam are growing more urgent just as Minnesota’s first proposed copper nickel mine is reaching the final stage of regulatory approval.

Throughout the last decade of environmental review and bitter debate, the $1 billion project by PolyMet Mining Co. has always been anchored to a 2.5-square-mile taconite basin near Hoyt Lakes that would eventually hold hundreds of millions of tons of ore processing waste — perhaps for centuries.

Environmental groups, which have long argued that the design is risky, have now made it a primary focus of their request for a legal review of the project that is now awaiting a decision by state officials. Continue Reading →

Trump Is ‘Saving Us’: Minnesota Mining Country Warms to Tariffs and G.O.P. – by Mitch Smith (New York Times – April 4, 2018)

https://www.nytimes.com/

EVELETH, Minn. — On northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, where evergreen trees stretch on for miles and snowpack lingers into the spring, a political shift is underway.

Generations of residents have gone to work in the mines, endured cycles of booms and layoffs, and mostly voted for Democrats. But President Trump’s tariffs on imported steel are being celebrated as a boost to the local taconite mines, which supply American steel mills, and Republicans are hopeful that they can flip the area’s congressional seat in November.

“President Trump is keeping his promises that he made on the campaign trail,” said Pete Stauber, a retired police officer and former professional hockey player who is running for Congress as a Republican. “He talked about leveling the playing field for the American worker. He did that with the tariffs.” Continue Reading →

‘THIS IS A SIGN OF HOPEFULNESS. WE AREN’T DEAD YET.’ – by Leah Ryan (Mesabi Daily News – February 28, 2018)

http://www.virginiamn.com/

AURORA — Headlines seen in the Mesabi Daily News over the years, dating back about two decades, document the sometimes-turbulent progress of PolyMet. As early up and downs of the NorthMet project mirrored the cyclical mining industry, few thought it would take this long to get to this point.

What has never been turbulent is the support PolyMet has received from Iron Rangers who depend on mining jobs to support their families. Now, as the reality of the PolyMet project draws even closer, opinions and fortunes on the East Range are proving to be ever optimistic.

“We are being rewarded for extreme patience,” commented Aurora City Councilor Douglas Gregor. “I would not have been as enthusiastic if the agencies hadn’t done what they have … We have a highly environmentally regulated state which has encouraged the mining companies to become environmentally conscious. With both environmental consciousness and the economic stimulation, this project is incredible.” Continue Reading →

In Duluth, more concern about copper-mining impact – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – February 8, 2018)

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

Supporters of the proposed PolyMet project won the field Wednesday night in Aurora on the Iron Range, but on Thursday evening in Duluth opponents of Minnesota’s first-ever copper mine made their case.

About 1,500 people attended the public meeting on permits for the proposed mine — about two-to-one against the project — with dozens on both sides speaking at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

It was the second of two meetings held to take public comments on the most important of 21 permits PolyMet needs in hand before it can begin to mine copper, nickel and other valuable metals near Babbitt and process them in an old taconite plant near Hoyt Lakes. Continue Reading →

Cliffs CEO promises continued growth in 2018 – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – January 25, 2018)

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

Cleveland-Cliffs had a good year mining and selling Minnesota and Michigan iron ore in 2017, the company reported Thursday, and should have an even better year in 2018.

Cliffs nearly doubled net revenue, hitting $371 million in 2017. That’s up from $199 million in 2016 as the company and industry continue to rise out of the global iron ore doldrums of 2015.

The nation’s largest producer of taconite iron ore pellets, used to make steel, had full-year 2017 consolidated revenues of $2.3 billion, compared to the prior year’s revenues of $2.1 billion, although revenue in the fourth quarter was actually down from 2016. Continue Reading →

Clarke ready to move Mesabi Metallics forward – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – January 22, 2018)

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

NASHWAUK — Tom Clarke leaned forward in a squeaky office chair in a drafty construction-site trailer, pulled out his phone and touched an app that exposed a countdown clock that flashed 171 days, 6 hours, 36 minutes and 28 seconds.

“That’s how much time we have to get this moving. I show it to everyone who is working on this project,” Clarke said earlier this month. “But we’re going to get there before that date.”

The zero hour on that clock is the June 30 deadline for Clarke’s Chippewa Capital Partners to have money in the bank, contractors on site and construction advancing full-speed on the Mesabi Metallics combined taconite mine, processing center and iron plant. Continue Reading →

State of Minnesota releases PolyMet’s draft permit to mine – by John Myers (Duluth News Tribune – January 5, 2018)

https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/

The state of Minnesota has given its preliminary blessing to the construction and operations plan for the state’s first-ever copper-nickel mine, releasing PolyMet Mining Co.’s draft permit to mine for public review Friday.

The draft permit from the Department of Natural Resources includes specific plans for how PolyMet would mine near Babbitt and process ore near Hoyt Lakes over the next 20 or more years.

The permit release signals the state is generally satisfied with how PolyMet plans to build, mine and then close the operations without harming the environment — especially without releasing potentially acidic mine waste into the St. Louis River ecosystem. Continue Reading →

Exports of iron ore pellets lift St. Lawrence Seaway freight volumes – by Eric Atkins (Globe and Mail – December 15, 2017)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

Asian demand for U.S. iron ore is driving up freight volumes on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Overall cargo tonnage, including mining products and grain, rose by 8.5 per cent to 33 million tonnes on the water route as of the end of November, from the same period a year ago, the Chamber of Marine Commerce said on Thursday.

Shipments of iron ore pellets, which are used to make steel, rose by 34 per cent to 7.4 million tonnes as China secured raw materials to feed its manufacturing facilities. Demand was also aided by higher commodity prices, Canadian demand for domestic ore and U.S. tariffs that have spurred sales to U.S. mills on the lower Great Lakes. Continue Reading →

PolyMet proposes $544 million to cover Minnesota mine’s early environmental risks – by Josephine Marcotty (Minneapolis Star Tribune – December 13, 2017)

http://www.startribune.com/

PolyMet Mining Corp. says it will put up $544 million in financial protections for the first three years of construction and mining at its proposed copper-nickel facility in northern Minnesota to insulate taxpayers from any environmental damage that could result.

The so-called “financial assurance” is the last piece required in PolyMet’s application for a permit to construct a $650 million mine and processing plant near Hoyt Lakes, the company said.

The assurance estimate in PolyMet’s financial proposal, which is considerably higher than the company predicted a year ago, now goes under state review. Continue Reading →

Sulfide mining: the most fateful decision Minnesota will ever make – by C.A. Arneson (Minn Post.com – December 12, 2017)

https://www.minnpost.com/

On Nov. 28, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act of 2017 (HR 3115) [PDF], facilitating perpetual pollution of Lake Superior and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Sponsored by Rep. Rick Nolan, HR 3115 has been received in the U.S. Senate; if attached to another bill it could slide through, selling Minnesota’s birthright to the highest bidder with scarcely a whimper.

If it passes the U.S. Senate, HR 3115 would exchange lands acquired for watershed protection for use by the most water polluting industry on the planet. It would render the pending lawsuits against the PolyMet land exchange for its proposed NorthMet mine null and void, the people’s right to seek justice in the courts stolen.

Where is the outrage? Minnesotans need to speak loudly, clearly – with the ballot if necessary – declaring they will not allow their representatives to turn our lake country into a sulfide mining cesspool. Water is becoming desperately scarce worldwide. Minnesota’s clean – incredibly rare – wealth of freshwater is its future. Continue Reading →