You may think we’re all about breaking rocks, but we’re great at breaking records, too.
The Minnesota iron mining industry – including U.S. Steel’s Minnesota Ore Operations – directly contributes to schools across the state through the Minnesota Permanent School Fund (PSF). Our sector’s success has helped the PSF reach new heights. As the largest contributor to the Fund, the Minnesota iron mining industry’s efforts have been instrumental to solidifying the PSF as a valuable resource for students throughout the state.
The Minnesota Department of Education distributed a record $37 million in spendable income from the PSF during the 2020-21 school year, which represents a nearly million-dollar increase from the previous year. This milestone builds upon a decade of consistent growth and success and marks a $14 million increase from ten years ago. Every classroom across Minnesota benefits from the PSF’s equitable allocation of funds, ensuring that all 326 public school districts, along with 178 academies and charter schools, receive their fair share. Distributions are made based on the number of students in average daily membership during the preceding school year. Check out this online tool to find out how much funding your school district received.
As mining on state trust lands continues, revenue for the PSF continues to generate. According to the Minnesota Office of School Trust Lands, funds are invested in a balanced portfolio that has consistently increased in value year over year, with an average rate of return of 9% over the past ten years.
Along with helping to fund Minnesota schools, the iron mining industry continues to support modern technologies and innovations. For example, iron mining serves an important role in the clean energy economy. The 193 million tons of iron ore mined…it produces enough steel to build 424,000 wind turbines. This is but one of the countless examples of how iron mining is critical to our path toward a brighter future, in addition to benefiting Minnesotans today.
As Keetac resumes its operations, we’re thrilled to share our latest episode of Taconite Talks featuring Keetac’s Tawnya Gustafson, a USW Local 2660 member. Welcome back Tawnya and our Keetac employees!
From starting out as a truck driver to working now as a trainer, Tawnya has made a career mining on the Iron Range. In this episode of Taconite Talks, Tawnya shares her career journey and what the industry means for her community.
“It pays our bills, it keeps our school funds alive, it keeps our economy going, it keeps jobs in our area,” said Tawnya.
Watch this video to hear more from Tawnya about her important work.
Minnesota iron mining has supported families and communities across the state for generations. This legacy continues through strong will and collaboration realized through the Iron Ore Alliance, a partnership that remains essential for industry progress and building prosperity in Minnesota.
To recognize the valuable relationship between the United Steelworkers and U. S. Steel – as well as showcase its pride in the Iron Range – the Alliance produced a new video featuring workers, supporters and lawmakers that strengthen the industry and position it for continued growth.
Watch this video and share and show your support for Minnesota iron mining!
In the latest episode of Taconite Talks, Sen. David Tomassoni, who represents District 6, explains how mining and environmental responsibility go hand in hand. Mining and logging activities on the Iron Range have been happening for more than 135 years, yet the area also boasts some of the most pristine natural areas in the state.
“Not only do we care about the environment in the area, but we take care of the area,” said Sen. Tomassoni. “We make sure that the logging and mining is done in such a way that the area remains pristine, and we’re going to continue to do that for the rest of our lives because we live there, we play there, and we work there.”
Watch this video to hear more from Sen. Tomassoni about the mining industry.
In the latest episode of Taconite Talks, the Iron Ore Alliance caught up with Rep. Julie Sandstede, who represents District 6A, to hear more about the state’s responsible use of its mineral resources.
“The Range is mineral rich… When we are given much, we should make much with it in a responsible way,” said Rep. Sandstede, a lifelong Hibbing resident.
Watch this video to hear more from Rep. Sandstede about the importance of mining:
From providing jobs and shaping our skyline to helping
provide funding for schools and partnering to protect the environment, iron
mining is a critical part of Minnesota’s economy and community. That’s why – in
our new video series, Taconite Talks
– we are talking to people in our region about what it means to be a part of
the iron mining industry and the impact it has throughout Minnesota.
In the first Taconite Talks, we hear from Les Minter, a third-generation steelworker at Minntac and member of USW Local 1938, about what iron mining means to him. Check it out!
The Iron Ore Alliance was proud to support a community initiative to restore the Olcott Park fountain in Virginia, Minnesota.
The historic Olcott Park fountain, which was built during the Great Depression, fell victim to mechanical issues when it stopped flowing in 2013.
After six dry years, many community meetings and $1 million in donations, a crowd of residents gathered in June to watch the fountain spring forth once again.
With the fountain back in action, the Parks and Recreation Commission for the City of Virginia seeks to raise an additional $50,000 before they render the project fully complete. Learn more here.
U. S. Steel introduced its new P&H 2800 shovel at Minntac in Mountain Iron on June 18, which is the first of its kind on the Iron Range.
The electric shovel, which took three months to build, has a price tag of more than $20 million. Its primary purpose will be to strip waste rock to expose and load crude ore directly for delivery to primary crushers.
The shovel features a state-of-the-art alternating current (AC) drive, which differs from traditional direct current (DC) drive shovels.
This cutting-edge machinery is a great investment in new
technology and makes the mining process more efficient.
Learn more here.
It’s a little-known source of major school funding.
The Iron Ore Alliance is pleased to share that Minntac and Keetac operations provided $22.7 million of the approximately $33 million that went to Minnesota’s permanent school fund in 2018. Money from the fund is distributed to Minnesota’s 337 public school districts based on student population.
Special thanks to Rep. Rob Ecklund for authoring a column about the history and impact of this fund that was published in the Mesabi Daily News last week. U. S. Steel’s Minnesota Ore Operations is proud to be major contributor to this fund that helps schools across the state.
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