Cleveland Cliffs acquires ArcelorMittal USA

Cleveland Cliffs becomes North America’s largest producer of iron ore and flat-rolled steel after acquiring the assets of ArcelorMittal USA. Reuters reported over the weekend that ArcelorMittal and Cleveland Cliffs were negotiating an asset merger that would dramatically affect the taconite industry on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. The deal merges ArcelorMittal’s American operations with those… Read More →

The rise of post-commute opportunity in northern Minnesota

Around 1960 my grandfather Marv Johnson quit the Keewatin police force to work at the Erie taconite plant in Hoyt Lakes. He told me that his take-home salary doubled that day. It was the first time he felt confident he could provide for his growing family. There were downsides. For one, the job almost killed… Read More →

Keewatin Taconite to shut down by late May

Another Mesabi Iron Range taconite mine will shut down amid a growing economic recession. Today, workers at Keewatin Taconite learned that they would be laid off in waves over the next month. WDIO reports that the plant will be fully idled by the end of May until demand for ore picks up at some point… Read More →

Warm through winter

My son Henry and I joined our friend John Latimer for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count last month. Our day started at 7 a.m. and 24 degrees below zero. Most birds, obviously smarter than us, huddled somewhere out of sight. We spied a beautiful bevy of ten swans and a lonely goldeneye on a small… Read More →

Grandpa and the way home

At one time my grandpa kept a bar in his house in Keewatin, a small wood-paneled room full of 1950s and ‘60s sports memorabilia, Norwegian flags and light-up beer signs. In 1990 or so, I think I was around 10, he showed me the things on the shelves and said “I’m dying. One day all… Read More →

Prairie River Minerals aims to restart scram mining on western Mesabi

Amid high demand and temporarily limited global supply, another new scram mining venture aims to reclaim natural iron ore on the western Mesabi Iron Range. Prairie River Minerals seeks to mine about 1.3 million tons of iron ore annually, mostly in Itasca County, hiring about 125 union workers in the process. The chief partners in… Read More →

Steelworkers reach tentative agreement with U.S. Steel

The United Steelworkers of America and U.S. Steel reached a tentative labor contract agreement on Monday, Oct. 15. Union leaders will now present the terms of the deal to their membership for a ratification vote. About 14,000 workers at mills and mines across America would work under this contract. Steelworkers leadership seemed pleased and optimistic… Read More →

Glimmers of hope in Steelworkers negotiations

Late last week, the United Steelworkers reached an agreement with Cleveland-Cliffs on a labor contract. Broadly speaking, the talks between Cliffs and the USW seemed to go well. The company acknowledged the improving state of the domestic iron ore and steel business, and shared some of the success with its workers. However, more contentious negotiations… Read More →

U.S. Steel balancing act offers economic warning

As the United Steelworkers union and U.S. Steel inch toward a strike, many on Minnesota’s Iron Range wonder why. The economy is good. Steel is selling for a high price. So, why is U.S. Steel playing hardball with its workers? The answer exposes some concerning facts not just in the steel industry, but across corporate… Read More →

Union works past deadline, but prepares for strike

All the mines on Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range run hot today, despite the expiration of labor contracts at facilities owned by U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal last night. The United Steelworkers of America agreed to stay on the job while negotiations continue. The union represents workers at mines and mills throughout the North American steel industry…. Read More →