Taconite Mining In Minnesota's Iron Range Doubled Since 2009
Taconite mining on northern Minnesota's Iron Range was quite productive last year, with levels in 2010 just below 2008 and more than double those in 2009, according to the Mesabi Daily News.
“The newspaper also said a new era in iron mining is becoming more established on the Range, with new plants such as Magnetation and Mesabi Nugget using new technologies to produce iron for steel, and construction well under way at the new Essar Steel Minnesota operation.
Minnesota Department of Revenue engineering specialist Bob Wagstrom said 2011 should see production levels around the same as those for 2006 through 2008, when it ranged around 38 million to 39 million tons.
Wagstrom projected 2010 production at 34.3 million tons, compared with 17.1 million tons in 2009, with higher output from each taconite plant on the Range.
Taconite is lower-grade ore, at 20-25 percent iron, which is crushed, concentrated and processed into pellets of 60-65 percent iron that are shipped to blast furnaces around Chicago and Cleveland. Plants in 2010 paid a production tax of $2.36 per ton, in lieu of any property taxes.
Tax revenues from the new-era iron producers will begin accruing in the near future, Wagstrom said. They include Mesabi Nugget, which uses a unique process to produce 95-percent-iron nuggets, and Magnetation, which reclaims iron ore from older-era iron tailings stockpiles.
At one point in spring and summer 2009, none of the six taconite plants on the Range was in production.
"2010 was much improved," said Craig Pagel, president of the Iron Mining Association of America of Minnesota. "As the recession ended, and steel demand increased, it was good to see all the taconite mines up and running."
New investments led to a resurgence at Keewatin Taconite, which produced an estimated 4.8 million tons, compared with just 75,000 tons in in 2009. Magnetation also stepped up its output, and Mesabi Nugget went through its first almost-full year of production.”