This summer the Iron Ore Alliance was proud to sponsor the 18th Annual International Legislators Forum held in Biwabik, Minnesota. The International Legislators Forum is an annual meeting of legislators from Manitoba, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota. This year’s topics included mining, trade, and environmental permitting and review. The forum gives legislators an opportunity to share information, understand problems, and build relationships.
“Mining is a critical part of Minnesota’s economy and is where the steelmaking process begins,” said Chris Masciantonio, co-chair of the Iron Ore Alliance. “The iron ore pellets produced in Minnesota contribute to our country’s economic and national security.”
While in Minnesota, the group had the opportunity to tour U. S. Steel’s Minntac mine which is North America’s largest iron ore mine. It is nine miles long and 1.5 miles at its widest point. Part of the tour included observing a blast.
Key facts about the day’s blast include:
- 466,000 pounds of explosive was used
- 187 40-foot holes were drilled to hold the explosive
- 519,000 tons of material resulted from the blast
For more than 130 years, the Iron Range has been defined by the iron mining industry. This is where America’s steelmaking process begins.
We are proud of this history, our range communities, and our workforce. Below is a short video to help tell this story.
The Iron Ore Alliance joined Minnesota’s range delegation, local officials, the Iron Mining Association, chambers of commerce, and others for a pre-hearing rally on October 24 to urge the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to consider all of the facts and consequences before making any decision on a sulfate water quality standard.
News coverage about the hearing and rally can be found here.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) proposed new water quality standard could have a devastating impact for families on the Iron Range and throughout Minnesota. It isn’t based on modern science, isn’t proven to protect wild rice, and would cause major job losses.
We’re asking the MPCA to consider all of the facts and consequences before making a decision on a sulfate water quality standard. Here are some ways you can get involved as well.
Submit a comment online
Submit comments online between now and November 2 by following these instructions:
- Click here to visit the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings discussion page
- Click on “view discussion”
- On the next page scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “view topic”
- On the next page click on “sign up”
- Once you sign up you can submit your comment
Write a letter
Write a letter and mail it by November 2 to:
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 64620
St. Paul, MN 55164-0620
To view a sample letter, please click here.
Attend a public hearing
Hearings on this issue will be held throughout Minnesota, October 23 – November 2. For a full list of public hearings, please click here.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently released its proposal for changes to the sulfate water quality standard to protect wild rice.
This issue is critical for the families and communities who live and work on the Iron Range. The cost of complying with the proposed standard would result in major job losses in Northeastern Minnesota and hurt cities and businesses throughout the state.
The MPCA’s proposed rule is not proven to protect wild rice, and the current standard of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) was enacted back in 1973 based on observations from the 1940s. We support a modern, science-based approach to help our state protect wild rice.
On August 23, Minnesota’s Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission toured Minntac to learn about the impact of Minnesota Ore Operations on Minnesota’s permanent school fund. Operations on school trust lands at Minntac and Keetac have provided approximately $370 million to Minnesota public schools over the last 15 years, which accounts for approximately 90 percent of all contributions to Minnesota’s permanent school fund.
Money from the fund is distributed to Minnesota’s 553 public school districts based on student population. For example, the St. Paul Public School District (largest in the state) received $1.1 million in 2015, while the Virginia Public School District received $51,000. Click here to see how much each school district in Minnesota receives from the fund.
“What a wonderful opportunity it was to welcome the Legislative School Fund Commission to Minntac to help members better understand the importance of our company’s mining operations and its impact on public education in Minnesota,” said U. S. Steel’s Chris Masciantonio, co-chair of the Iron Ore Alliance.
“The Iron Range is where the steelmaking process begins, and we’re quite proud of that,” said Mike Woods, United Steelworkers staff representative. “We’re happy to showcase the hard work and innovation that happens at Minntac and Keetac each day to produce iron ore that the world depends on.”
During their tour of Minntac, members experienced a blast. Click below to watch a video of it.
About 70 Iron Range community leaders and local officials gathered to receive updates on Minnesota’s sulfate wild rice water quality standard. At the meeting, presenters provided an update about research that started in 2012.
United States Steel Corporation announced today it has reached agreements to supply iron ore pellets to third-party customers.
U. S. Steel will adjust its iron ore pellet production in order to take full advantage of these business opportunities. Included in the adjustments is a restart of the Keetac Plant in Keewatin, Minn. Employee callbacks at Keetac will begin in early January 2017, and the company anticipates production will begin in March 2017.
The Keetac Plant, which has an annual production capacity of approximately six million net tons, has been temporarily idled since May 2015 due to global influences in the market, including high levels of imported steel products, unfair trade and reduced steel prices.
United States Steel Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is a leading integrated steel producer and Fortune 250 company with major operations in the United States and Central Europe. For more information about U. S. Steel, please visit www.ussteel.com.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently released a draft water quality permit for Minntac’s tailing basin. As the people who live, work, and raise families on the Iron Range, the Iron Ore Alliance cares about our region’s pristine environment.
We appreciate the many workers and vendors who are participating in the public comment period for the MPCA’s draft permit, which is taking place through Friday, December 16. This is an opportunity to help others understand our record as an industry leader in environmental performance while preserving the hundreds of jobs that people of the Iron Range depend on to support their families and build strong communities.
We encourage you to learn about the permit, participate in the public comment period, and help make sure the MPCA understands our commitment to protecting the environment. In the past 10 years alone, we have invested more than $94 million in environmental improvements at our Minntac facility.
Comments can be submitted to:
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Road North
Saint Paul, MN 55155
The Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) board of directors passed a resolution on October 27, 2016 calling for two things as the MPCA considers a new wild rice sulfate standard.
1. The RAMS resolution called for hearings in Greater Minnesota so that residents, community leaders, and business owners can participate in the process.
2. The group also asked that the timing of the cost analysis and the implementation of the rule be aligned so that the public can formulate sincere and honest reactions to the implementation of a proposed standard. Fee-payers, municipal wastewater treatment operators, and community and business leaders will have to manage the associated expenses to comply with a new standard.
Currently, the cost analysis is not expected to be complete until May 31, 2018, five months after the effective date of a newly proposed sulfate standard.
RAMS represents more than 72,000 residents and 47 public sector units of government, including 23 cities, 15 public school districts, and nine townships in the 13,000-square-mile Taconite Assistance Area (TAA) of northern Minnesota.