Oct 04, 2017

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:

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.

Sep 15, 2017

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.

Silhouette of fishing boat and person on a Minnesota lake during the sunset with clouds and sun reflection on the lake water. This picture was taken during the early part of summer.

Aug 30, 2017

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.

Minnetac commission

The commission, comprised of state legislators, oversees the management of 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.

Jun 07, 2017

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.

6-7-17 MN wild rice water quality standard meeting


Dec 29, 2016

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.

Dec 07, 2016

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:

Erik Smith
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Road North
Saint Paul, MN 55155


Oct 31, 2016

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-logoRAMS 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.

Oct 23, 2016

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to address the Laurentian Vision Partnership at its meeting on Oct. 19 . The IOA shares many priorities with this diverse group of regional stakeholders, such as sustaining good jobs, fostering economic growth, and protecting our environment.

EDITED LVP attendees

As part of a joint initiative of U. S. Steel and USW that formed in February 2013 to provide a united, bipartisan voice on issues that impact iron mining, we shared an update about our work.

EDITED Reb and Chris presenting to LVP

The IOA is focused on bringing people together to end illegal foreign steel dumping and establish a science-based water quality standard that safeguards wild rice while protecting the future of the iron mining industry – the backbone of Northeastern Minnesota’s economy.

These are challenging times for the Iron Range, and the IOA is proud to be an active participant in policy issues that impact the iron ore industry – because there’s no fight more worthwhile than standing up for the livelihoods of people who live, work, and raise families on the Iron Range.

Oct 20, 2016

The IOA brought more than 45 Iron Range leaders together on Oct. 19 to continue working toward a science-based water quality standard that safeguards Minnesota’s wild rice and protects the future of the iron mining industry. Local business leaders and representatives from municipalities received a comprehensive briefing on the issue, including information about the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) public comment period expected to begin in early 2017.

Speakers Kurt Anderson of Minnesota Power, Rob Beranek of Cliffs Natural Resources, and Chrissy Bartovich of U. S. Steel provided an update about ongoing research that commenced when discussions about the wild rice issue began in 2011. They also presented information about the potential costs to municipalities and industry on the Iron Range of complying with a sulfate water quality discharge standard. According to the speakers, potential costs to individual Iron Range cities could soar to millions of dollars. As a result, individual households could pay hundreds of dollars per year in new wastewater treatment fees.

Kurt Anderson of Minnesota Power presenting a briefing on research regarding the the wild rice issue on Oct. 19, 2016.

Kurt Anderson of Minnesota Power presenting a briefing on research regarding the the wild rice issue on Oct. 19, 2016.

In attendance were federal and state Iron Range lawmakers, including Rep. Rick Nolan, Sen. David Tomassoni, and Rep. Rob Ecklund, who all applauded attendees for coming together to learn more about the issue and work toward a science-based solution.

Chris Masciantonio, Sen. David Tomassoni, Congressman Rick Nolan and John Rebrovich at the wild rice meeting on Oct. 19, 2016.

Chris Masciantonio, Sen. David Tomassoni, Congressman Rick Nolan and John Rebrovich at the wild rice meeting on Oct. 19, 2016.

Click here to read the Mesabi Daily News’ coverage of the event.

Sep 16, 2016

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on September 12 voted to establish new tariffs on hot-rolled steel imports from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Turkey – helping to level the playing field for American workers in the ongoing fight against illegal foreign steel dumping.

The decision follows a September 2 ITC vote to establish new tariffs on cold-rolled steel products from Brazil, India, Korea, and the United Kingdom. The new tariffs will be in effect for five years. Fact sheets for the U.S. government’s determination, antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties can be viewed at: USDOC hot-rolled steel fact sheet, and USDOC cold-rolled steel fact sheet.

American steel companies and workers praised the ITC’s decision. U. S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi said the new tariffs are “yet another positive step towards establishing a level playing field,” vowing to continue efforts “to ensure fair trade and adherence to the rule of law.”

“The trade commission final rulings will back-off the river of illegal steel imports,” said United Steel Workers International President Leo W. Gerard, adding that the decision will hopefully return laid-off steelworkers. “Trade cases are only part of the solution. America’s steelworkers need immediate, forceful action on the bigger crisis of global steel overcapacity.”

Selling steel products below cost in order to gain market share and harm domestic producers, known as “predatory dumping,” has hit workers, families, and communities on Minnesota’s Iron Range hard. The Iron Ore Alliance – a joint initiative between the United Steelworkers and U. S. Steel – has been working hard to support a fairer trade system that helps American steel manufacturers and industries thrive.