Canadian company gives solar second chance on Range

Next month, a Canadian company will reopen a solar panel manufacturing plant in Mountain Iron, hoping to shake off the bad juju of a previously failed project. Heliene opens in August with plans of hiring 130 people by September. They’ll produce commercial-scale solar panels for sale in the North American marketplace. They enjoy the aid… Read More →

Niskanen brings Stanley Cup home on the Range

I was talking to a friend this weekend. He told me that he watched a hockey game earlier that day. Hockey, I said. It’s July. But I caught myself. Of course they’re playing hockey in July. It’s Minnesota. Right now thousands of minivans criss-cross our verdant summer landscape. Each vessel aims for a parking lot… Read More →

Steelworkers contract talks test strong market

This month contract negotiations opened between the United Steelworkers of America and two big steelmakers, U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal. Already, the union says the two sides are far apart. Workers hope for a better outcome than the last labor negotiations in 2015. That contract froze pay and added costs to retirees. However, it also held… Read More →

Summer 2018 brings color to Range communities

I drive through Nashwauk, Minnesota, most days. It’s a nice little town, but a little worn down. That’s not unusual for the cities of the western Mesabi Iron Range. These boom towns bloomed in a white pine wilderness a century ago, each at the mouth of a specific iron mine. Now that mining is more… Read More →

History echoes through Iron Range politics

In 1887, the Merritt Brothers and a crew led by Capt. J.A. Nichols discovered rich hematite ore under 14 feet of mud near the future townsite of Mountain Iron. After three years of wading through stinking mosquito swamps, alternating with hellish winter conditions, these men turned hope of discovering the Mesabi Range into reality. Almost… Read More →

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 →

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 →

Moving mountains for an Iron Range future

Soon the Hull Rust Mine View in historic North Hibbing will be closed for good, set to reopen next year at a new location to the east. Shortly thereafter Hibbing Taconite will blow to bits the very mountain of taconite on which the viewing stand sits to send the iron ore on its way to… Read More →

Highway 53 bridge opens this week

After a short delay from an optimistic August opening, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will open the new Highway 53 bridge this Friday, Sept. 15. This nearly quarter-billion dollar project reroutes Highways 53 and 135 on the east central Iron Range, creating the state’s new tallest bridge over the Rouchleau Pit outside Virginia, Minn. The… Read More →

Iron Range ore to play big role in #Harvey recovery

By now we are familiar with the widespread devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the following tropical storm and torrential rain. It’s the single biggest rain event in the history of the contiguous United States. We may yet only guess at the totality of the storm’s terrible effect on the people of Houston, their property, and… Read More →