The Iron Ore Alliance emphasized the importance of fixing the current state of rail service at Governor Mark Dayton’s rail delay roundtable in Duluth Tuesday. Larry Sutherland, general manager for Minnesota Ore Operations at U. S. Steel, presented during the roundtable. U. S. Steel’s Minnesota Ore Operations are being adversely affected by delayed and inconsistent rail service and congestion. With its Minntac and Keetac facilities located in northeastern Minnesota, U. S. Steel’s Minnesota Ore Operations is the state’s largest iron ore pellet producer.
More than two million tons of pellets have built up at taconite facilities on the Iron Range because of the significant delays and inconsistent rail service throughout the Upper Midwest. U. S. Steel’s Keetac plant is experiencing a backlog of 250,000 tons of pellets and rising, due to the difficulty of getting railcars.
It is important to the Iron Ore Alliance that these backlogs be addressed immediately. When the Great Lakes close for the winter, rail will be the only available form of shipment. Thousands of workers make their livelihoods in the iron mining industry, which depends on effective transportation. We appreciate Governor Dayton addressing this issue and look forward to working with his office, elected officials, and other stakeholders to effectively solve it.
Taconite facilities on the Iron Range currently have more than 2 million tons of pellets stockpiled as a result of poor rail service. The Iron Ore Alliance is grateful for the support of the Minnesota lawmakers who are calling on railroad companies to address the ongoing delays so that taconite producers can get iron ore to steel mills in a timely manner. We are especially appreciative of the ongoing support from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who recently submitted testimony about this issue at a joint Minnesota Senate and House hearing. Below is an excerpt from Senator Klobuchar’s testimony. Click here to read her full testimony.
These disruptions not only affect operations at these mining companies, but also at the steel mills further down the Great Lakes that rely on taconite pellets to feed their furnaces. There is a finite shipping season on the Great Lakes which will close for shipping for the winter in just a few months, so it’s critical that railroad companies address these backlogs.
– U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 9/30/14