U.S. Steel to reopen Granite City Works

When the steel industry hit the skids three years ago, one of the biggest signals of woe was the shuttering of U.S. Steel’s mill in Granite City, Illinois in 2016. That mill took iron ore from the Mesabi Range. Company officials cited its closure as one of the reasons for the idling of Keewatin Taconite…. Read More →

Littlewolf leaves Virginia council for foundation post

Virginia city councilor Nevada Littlewolf is leaving office for a prestigious new job as CEO of a Native American foundation. Last week, the Minneapolis-based Tiwahe Foundation named Littlewolf as its new leader. The foundation grants funds to Native American communities to promote independence and stronger leadership. “I understand firsthand the importance of indigenous voices in… Read More →

West Side Story: the high stakes Mesabi mining show

A proposed new mine near the western Mesabi Iron Range town of Nashwauk has proven to be a challenge to explain. Every time I go to write one piece, something new pops up, changing the story. I don’t even know what to call it. This thing is a folk story now. So let’s start from… Read More →

Mesabi Iron Range takes action on mountain bike trails

Last week brought a very busy Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board meeting. In addition to discussions of reform and school funding, the board also green-lighted the commissioner’s plan to fund three mountain bike trails on the Mesabi Iron Range. The almost $5 million grant package helps volunteer-based organizations and Giants Ridge develop three distinct… Read More →

L.L. Bean ‘Bootmobile’ headed to the Iron Range

Growing up in the rural environs just off the Mesabi iron formation, I became accustomed to the machinations of the bookmobile. Well, now Iron Range residents can expect a new arrival: the Bootmobile. L.L. Bean, purveyor of fine boots and outdoor clothing and accessories, turned a pickup truck into a giant boot. Now they tour… Read More →

Remembering Bill Ojala, radical conscience of the Iron Range

Bill Ojala, a former Iron Range legislator and later gadfly social justice activist, died last Saturday at the age of 92. John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune penned a good obituary (“‘A true son of the Iron Range’: Lawyer, politician Bill Ojala dies at 92“) in yesterday’s paper. Ojala, descended from Finnish-American immigrants on… Read More →

Iron innovation most vital mining challenge for Mesabi Range

I know, there’s plenty we could talk about regarding controversial copper-nickel mining projects in Northern Minnesota. PolyMet has a draft permit to mine. Ely’s Twin Metals got a symbolic boost from the Trump Administration. Persistent and largely meaningless slap fights between mining advocates and skeptics color the pages of the local press. But the truth… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts of 2017

Farewell, 2017! Another future year over and yet still no flying car in my garage. Nevertheless, the Minnesota Vikings are contenders and Donald Trump is President of the United States, so the past would still be baffled by our present. Let’s take a look back at the year that was on MinnesotaBrown.com. We cover news,… Read More →

Land deal gives Cliffs edge on Nashwauk mine

Earlier this month, Cleveland Cliffs announced that it acquired land associated with the former Essar Steel Minnesota mine project in Nashwauk. At the time, I and others wondered how significant this news would be. Well, the Mesabi Daily News reports that an anonymous source says Cliffs now controls a critical part of the project, including… Read More →

IRRRB boost for school project raises important issue

The Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board is winding up its business for the year. As usual, the commissioner brings a number of projects to the docket. One provokes an important discussion about regional strategy regarding school consolidation. The IRRRB oversees a unique state agency, which is actually run by a commissioner appointed by the… Read More →