Zebra mussels in Range mine pit raise questions

Northern Minnesota has been standing sentinel against zebra mussels for a number of years. We worry our freshwater lakes could be overrun by this invasive species. Typically, however, we imagine the pests arriving on the hulls of traveling boats and trailers. That doesn’t seem to explain why they showed up in an Iron Range mine… Read More →

Emblematic of his era, Iron Range lawmaker Joe Begich dies

I met Joe Begich in the late 1990s, five years after he had retired from the state legislature. He was a senior statesman of sorts, an uncle at the Iron Range DFL reunion who could offer either useful context or long-winded tangents. Begich was, of course, a dedicated laborite and fierce Iron Range advocate. He… Read More →

Explaining the hot idle

If you’re a regular reader of MinnesotaBrown.com you’ve probably noticed far fewer posts that usual this summer. This is what I sometimes call a “hot idle.” The term refers to what the mines do when they halt production of iron ore but keep their equipment “hot” and ready for a quick restart. It’s usually something… Read More →

The power of getting together for the Iron Range Fourth of July week

Last week, Andrew Krueger at Minnesota Public Radio interviewed me about the Fourth of July tradition on the Iron Range. The piece aired last Saturday. Independence Day brings one of the most fun weeks on the Iron Range. I explain some of the origin story and cultural significance of this week’s activities in the interview…. Read More →

Glencore to take majority stake of PolyMet project

The preliminary results of PolyMet’s stock dilution scheme are in. Glencore, the world’s largest mining company and a lightning rod for labor and environmental criticism, will soon hold more than 71 percent of the Northern Minnesota copper-nickel project. “We thank all of our shareholders for their interest in and support for this project, and are… Read More →

Prairie River Minerals scrambles to scram while iron market hot

Last April, I was first to report about Prairie River Minerals, a new company formed to process iron ore stockpiles on the western Mesabi Iron Range. It was a story that fell in my lap because a friend of mine is involved in the project. Thus, I’ve mostly left the story alone since then. But… Read More →

UPDATE: Mesabi Metallics claims new partners to restart former Essar iron ore project

UPDATE: I’ve revised the June 6 post with new information and to clarify project ownership. On Wednesday evening WDIO-Duluth aired a report by Renee Passal about a potential new investors and management structure for Mesabi Metallics. However, on Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources rejected the company as lacking credibility. Mesabi Metallics keeps a… Read More →

Ely police talk down raging deer

When I was a reporter I would often have to translate police reports into normal human words. For countless journalists, this is a full time job. However, this tweet from the Ely Police Department requires no editing: Press Release: pic.twitter.com/V2HU9cHOT5 — Ely Police Dept (@ElyPolice) May 23, 2019 That’s one bad-ass momma deer ready to… Read More →

Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert approve shared high school plan

Tonight voters in the Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert school districts appear to have approved a plan to build a shared high school that would serve both communities. The districts have not yet released vote totals, but will on Wednesday. Unofficial reports showed the measure passing in all three communities. Despite the lack of information, referendum supporters… Read More →

Monumental school vote approaches in Virginia, Eveleth-Gilbert districts

This Tuesday, May 14, voters in the Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert school districts will vote in a school bond referendum. The result will shape the future of these communities and, quite possibly, the entire educational strategy of the Mesabi Iron Range. If that sounds like I’m laying it on a bit thick, consider the following: If… Read More →