The Iron Ore Alliance supports proposed legislation that would require publicly funded construction and maintenance projects in Minnesota to give preference to American-manufactured iron, steel, and other manufactured goods. The Iron Range is where the steelmaking process begins, and the region provides high-quality, well-paying jobs to thousands of people. We hope the Minnesota Legislature will support this legislation that is important to the future viability of the taconite mining industry.
The United Way of Northeastern Minnesota presented the “Taconite Challenge Award” to the Minntac mining operation at the nonprofit’s annual campaign celebration dinner last week. The traveling trophy is given annually to the mining facility with the highest employee participation in the United Way’s giving campaign. Minntac, the single largest iron ore pelletizing operation in the United States, is operated by United States Steel Corporation with union members from United Steelworkers Local 1938 and 9115. In 2014, more than 67 percent of Minntac employees participated in the giving program, raising a total of $229,916 for local nonprofits that are dedicated to improving education, helping people achieve financial stability, promoting healthy lives, and strengthening families.
The Iron Ore Alliance is pleased that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is continuing its work to determine an appropriate sulfate level standard based on sound science for each body of water in the state. Minnesota’s sulfate water quality standard is a critical issue for the taconite mining industry and Minnesota is the only state in the nation with such a standard.
As the MPCA announced today, it plans to go through formal rulemaking to change the existing standard later this year. While today was an important step in the process, it is not a comprehensive solution to the sulfate issues. Good, defensible science is still needed.
In a recent interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Governor Dayton stated that the sulfate standard is complex and doesn’t guarantee that wild rice will thrive. He also said that the sulfate standard aimed at protecting wild rice is out of date, and implementing it could be catastrophic for northeastern Minnesota.
The Iron Ore Alliance believes that wild rice can be protected while also allowing for continued operations in Minnesota’s taconite mining industry. We plan to continue working with the MPCA and all interested stakeholders to ensure that the sulfate standard is fairly enforced and based on modern science.
The discussion surrounding Minnesota’s sulfate standard to protect wild rice is extremely important to our industry, but it also has the potential to impact the entire state of Minnesota. This video provides a nine-minute summary of the issue, featuring presentations from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and other environmental experts who conducted an independent study of the sulfate standard. The video was produced by the Iron Ore Alliance in cooperation with Minnesota Power and the Iron Mining Association. Its purpose is to share information that was presented at meetings about Minnesota’s water quality standard in October 2014.
MINE, an Iron Range publication dedicated to the mining industry, has won first place in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in the “Special Sections” category. Launched in 2013, MINE is a collaborative effort of the Mesabi Daily News, Hibbing Daily Tribune, Grand Rapids Herald-Review, and Chisholm Tribune Press. The Iron Ore Alliance would like to thank and congratulate the staff of MINE for being an important voice for our industry. The sixth issue of MINE will be published in late February.
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar recently received a well-deserved award from the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), recognizing her support of steel jobs. After a major push from Klobuchar last summer, the International Trade Commission voted to impose penalties on Korean companies for dumping steel products into the United States. We are appreciative of Sen. Klobuchar and the cast of other Minnesota public officials who were instrumental in supporting America’s 583,000 steel-related jobs, including 10,400 in Minnesota.
The Iron Ore Alliance held a reception with Minnesota legislators on February 5 in Saint Paul. The event included discussions between U. S. Steel, the United Steelworkers, and legislators about issues important to iron mining, including the need to revise Minnesota’s sulfate standard to protect wild rice, and the importance of Buy American legislation. 2015 will likely be a critical year for iron mining in Minnesota. We are grateful for the legislators who attended our reception, and look forward to working together to support our important industry.
Today the Iron Ore Alliance announced United States Steel Corporation’s Minnesota Ore Operations and United Steelworkers’ contributions of $6,093 to Iron Range nonprofits through the holiday gate collections. At the annual gate collections, money is gathered from employees as they enter their respective workplaces, and all of the money is donated to local food shelves and the Salvation Army. At this year’s gate collection, $4,549 was collected at Minntac and $1,544 was collected at Keetac. United States Steel and the United Steelworkers contribute about $400,000 annually to organizations and causes in Minnesota.
The Iron Ore Alliance congratulates Larry Sutherland on being named acting head – Mining Solutions for
U. S. Steel. Currently Sutherland serves as general manager, Minnesota Ore Operations where he has been responsible for the company’s taconite facilities in Mountain Iron and Keewatin.
As acting head of Mining Solutions, Sutherland will focus on the company’s iron ore mines and iron ore joint ventures. A native of Minnesota’s Iron Range, Sutherland has worked in the steel industry for more than 35 years, beginning as a union millwright before advancing in a series of increasingly responsible management roles with U.S. Steel.
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.