Keewatin Taconite will reopen in March 2017

WDIO reports that Keewatin Taconite will reopen in March 2017, ending a 19-month shutdown. U.S. Steel announced it signed pellet contracts with third party steelmakers, providing the spark to reopen the long dormant Keewatin plant. KeeTac was the last taconite mine on the Range still closed after last year’s steel downturn, which at one time had… Read More →

U.S. Steel vows (nonspecifically) to restore 10,000 jobs

In recent days, we’ve been talking about the general improvement of stock and commodity prices as they relate to Mesabi Range iron mines. One of my key observations was that despite the surge, U.S. Steel’s Keewatin Taconite remained closed after 18 months. Well, stop the presses. Maybe. On Wednesday, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi said on… Read More →

Iron Range uncertainty endures even as iron ore surges

Last night, history professor Jeff Manuel and I spoke to a patient, nice-sized crowd at the Grand Rapids Public Library about the past, present and future of the taconite industry on the Mesabi Iron Range. Our conclusion was as follows: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ OK, perhaps that’s a little glib. Point is, you look at the short term you… Read More →

Grandpa has something to tell Grandma

Gray skies hang low over the idled Keewatin Taconite plant. I meet my grandpa, Marv Johnson, at the very busy Sinclair gas station. We’re on a secret mission. “Too crowded,” he says. I peek around the corner at the gas station’s only table and chairs. Several townsfolk stare back like whitetail deer. Grandpa’s already back… Read More →

LIVE BLOG: Primary Night on the Iron Range

Welcome to the Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016 MinnesotaBrown primary election live blog. Your intrepid host Aaron Brown will provide analysis of Iron Range results throughout the evening. We’ll pay close attention to the House 6A DFL contest and St. Louis County commissioner races. 11:00: There will be more to write in coming days, but we can… Read More →

Range mines catch a Super Mario star

If Iron Range mines were Super Mario, they’d be blinking while knocking off Goombas left and right. More on that below. This week brought quarterly earnings reports from the two biggest mining companies on Minnesota’s Iron Range, U.S. Steel and Cliffs Natural Resources. Both companies show significant improvement from a dismal 2015. Cliffs posted a profit… Read More →

Inside fundraising in House 6A Range DFL primary

Last week at the blog we dove into a debate over who funds Iron Range campaigns. At the time we didn’t have access to the first major campaign finance reports. Well, the Campaign Finance Board released those reports Tuesday morning. You can view them for yourself here. So let’s explore the fundraising for Northern Minnesota’s… Read More →

U.S. Steel slashes 25 percent of salaried jobs

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel, owner and operator of two major mines on the Mesabi Iron Range and co-owner of a third, announced Wednesday it would slash 25 percent of its salaried workforce. The job cuts are focused on its North American operations. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The steelmaker had 21,000 employees in North America as of… Read More →

Cliffs eyes acquiring Essar plant

As snow fades from the ditches of Northern Minnesota, the Essar Steel construction site north of Nashwauk remains frozen in time. Minor movement in and out of the site is but partial salve for the idled hope of hundreds of jobs from the region’s largest new mining project in a generation. Essar has stated that it hopes… Read More →

Confusion over deal for unemployed miners

On Friday, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a bill funding extended unemployment benefits for laid off Iron Range miners attached to controversial unemployment tax cuts for businesses. Though House DFLers opposed the pairing of those two issues, ultimately most Range DFLers argued for its passage so that unemployed miners without benefits could receive aid. Rep…. Read More →