Magnetation moves to drain pit for new mine

canisteo_pit_smallLost in the din of bad news about Iron Range mines last week was this nugget: The scram mining operation Magnetation is a step closer to dewatering the Canisteo Pit near Bovey to begin mining untapped ore reserves underneath the adjacent Buckeye Pit.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is taking public comments on the project through April 15.

Magnetation just idled its Plant One outside Keewatin, one week before Keewatin Taconite announced an indefinite shutdown starting in May. The whole North American iron ore industry is bracing for a tough year or two due to very low iron ore prices, the strong American dollar, low oil prices and a huge increase in international ore supplies from big mines in Australia and South America. (I went over this on the radio with Cathy Wurzer on MPR last Friday)

Magnetation won’t actual dewater the pit or start mining until iron ore prices improve.

If you’ve heard anything about the Canisteo Pit in recent years it probably has more to do with it causing a major flooding problem in the city of Bovey. In fact, the state paid to partially drain the pit two years ago, which means that for many in this town Magnetation would be doing them a favor. Hydrology is a unique challenge on the Iron Range since so many natural waterways, springs and land masses have been rearranged to accommodate 130 years of mining.

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