Last Thursday, Keetac workers raised more than $1,200 for a local food shelf through its semiannual gate collection, where employees donate money as they enter the workplace. The funds raised for this gate collection were given to Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the food shelf in Nashwauk. In a recent article in the Hibbing Daily Tribune, Dan Pierce, president of United Steelworkers Local 2660, said, “With the recent downturn in the industry and the threats of layoffs here in May, I, as president, was nervous as to how the gate collection would go. After seeing how we did, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all the people who work at Keetac – hourly and management – for putting aside our concerns to make sure that other people’s concerns are taken care of.” Click here to read the full story.
Minnesota’s iron ore mines contribute millions of dollars annually to Minnesota’s Permanent School Fund, which distributes money to every public school in the state. In 2014, U. S. Steel’s Minnesota Ore Operations contributed more than $37 million in royalty payments to the trust funds. This amounts to 84 percent of the total contributions in 2014.
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.