Archive | Minnesota Duluth Complex and Iron Range

Copper mining worries many. Many also use copper. – by Jim Bowyer (Minneapolis Star Tribune – June 28, 2018)

http://www.startribune.com/

Jim Bowyer is an environmental consultant, an emeritus professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota, and the author of “The Irresponsible Pursuit of Paradise.”

In all of the discussion about copper mining in Minnesota, there is a remarkable lack of references to copper consumption within our state. At the same time that wind and solar energy expansion and electric vehicles are being enthusiastically promoted, the critical role of copper (and nickel) to these developments is never mentioned.

A typical wind turbine contains 4 to 8 tons of copper. Solar collectors contain even more copper per unit of energy generated. Even more significant is the copper used in the production of hybrid and electric vehicles. A fully electric automobile contains three to four times as much copper as a standard vehicle — a hybrid about twice as much. As the market for fossil-fuel-free vehicles expands, so does our need for copper.

In late 2017, the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton, estimated that conversion of just 8 percent of the global auto fleet to electric vehicles would increase global copper use by more than 40 percent. The World Energy Council estimated an even greater impact on copper demand. Continue Reading →

MINING TAKES CENTER STAGE – by Jerry Burnes (Mesabi Daily News – June 27, 2018)

http://www.virginiamn.com/

AT ROUNDTABLE AND RALLY, TRUMP PROVES A FRIEND TO THE IRON INDUSTRY

DULUTH — President Trump brought his “America First” brand of politics with him to Duluth, where the iron mining industry found the friend it expected when he was elected into office a year and a half ago.

Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs have faced broad criticism from business groups over global trade war concerns, but on Minnesota’s Iron Range, are widely popular. His decision in December to reinstate mineral leases to Twin Metals Minnesota, which is prospecting an underground copper-nickel mine near Ely, drew praise from industry advocates.

Trump held a roundtable with Iron Range community and business leaders, miners and industry advocates on June 20 in Duluth and made a proclamation at the following rally that promised to throw out a federal land withdrawal, which Trump said were minerals placed “under lock and key” by the Obama administration. Continue Reading →

[Minnesota Mining] TAKING THE FIGHT OUTSIDE – by Angie Riebe (Mesabi Daily News – June 27, 2018)

http://www.virginiamn.com/

NONPROFIT AIMS TO EDUCATION MINNESOTA ON MINING’S IMPORTANCE

When Cindy Stene drives across the Iron Range these days, she becomes rather emotional. During a recent trip from Grand Rapids to Ely to Gilbert and back, “I had tears in my eyes — seeing all the signs that have sprung up,” she said.

She’s talking about “Iron Range Proud” yard signs. Displayed prominently under the word “PROUD” is the hashtag: #fight4miningMN. Stene and 12,000 of her closest friends have been fighting that fight together now for a good year and a half.

Though she lives in Grand Rapids, Stene’s family has called the Ely and Babbitt areas home. And she, along with Joe Baltich, owner of Red Rock Wilderness Store and Northwind Lodge near Ely, joined forces to get the ball rolling on a fight that’s improtant to so many. Continue Reading →

[Minnesota Mining] ‘IT IS A HISTORY WORTH TELLING’ – by Leah Ryan (Mesabi Daily News – June 27, 2018)

http://www.grandrapidsmn.com/

SOUDAN — “If you haven’t been [to the Soudan Underground Mine] it is one of the three or four drop-to-your-knees outstanding experiences you can have at a state park,” said Erika Rivers, director of State Parks and Trails at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

June 7 was the ribbon cutting of the new campground at Vermilion State Park, in the same area as Soudan Underground Mine State Park. “The camping opportunity here with the mine will create a historical learning experience,” said Minnesota Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. “It is a history worth telling.”

“The Soudan Underground Mine is one of the most awesome places in the state of Minnesota,” said Parl Manager Jim Essig. “It showcases the heritage of the people of the Iron Range. Plus, it is a lot of fun,” Essig couldn’t help but adding with a genuine smile. Continue Reading →

BUILD STEEL BRIDGES NOT STEEL CAGES – by Aaron J. Brown (Hibbing Daily Tribune – June 24, 2018)

http://www.hibbingmn.com/

Aaron J. Brown is an author and community college instructor from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio (KAXE.org).

We’ve outlived our immigrant ancestors. Imprints of hungrier times remain etched on our communities, but they are easy to ignore. The fight for workplace safety and fair pay. The demand for free public education. The streets and amenities built to last beyond the mines on the edge of town. The shared humanity of the many over the tyranny of the few.

But I cannot escape a terrible notion. Transported to another time, the surnames painted in charming fashion on our Northern Minnesota cabins would have been the names on the clipboards outside the immigrant camps we read about in today’s news. Continue Reading →

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 →