Minnesota fifth largest source of U.S. minerals

U.S. Steel’s MinnTac facility is the largest active iron ore operation in the United States, and “king” of the Iron Range mines of Northern Minnesota. (PHOTO: U.S. Steel)

Minnesota is the fifth largest producer of American mineral resources according to a recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The state remains the largest producer of iron ore in the country, but also produces many millions of dollars worth of industrial sand and stone.


From the Myers story:

The USGS report reiterated what northern Minnesota residents already know; that the decline in global steel demand and prices in 2015 and 2016 spurred a decline in demand for U.S. steel and thus an 11 percent decline in U.S. iron ore production compared to 2015.

The U.S. produced 40.8 million tons of iron ore in 2016, all of it from Minnesota and Michigan, down from 46 million in 2015 and 56.1 million tons in 2014.

The report notes that U.S. iron ore production in 2016 amounted to just 2 percent of all global iron ore production.

Steel production picked up in late 2016, however, and has spurred increased demand for Minnesota iron ore. The American Iron and Steel Institute reported Monday that U.S. steel production was up 8 percent last week from the same week in 2016 and up 6.4 percent so far this year compared to last year.

Mining industry groups hailed the report as evidence that Minnesota remains a vital source of key minerals. Indeed, the report was commissioned to highlight the national security implications of America’s current levels of mineral and metal production.

What is also interesting, however, is the notion that even with half the miners on the Iron Range laid off more than a year ago, the nation’s mineral production dipped but carried on. “Minerals” is a far broader category than just iron, or even copper and nickel, for that matter.

The statistics further show the degree to which Australia and Brazil have become global leaders in iron ore production. Like mines in Great Britain, Sweden and Luxembourg in Europe, the United States iron industry is moving toward becoming a specialty producer for specific U.S. companies.

In this, spurring Northern Minnesota’s ability to produce a wider variety of higher value iron ore products would seem to be the best strategy for this region to survive as a significant iron ore producer.

Read the U.S. Geological Survey report for yourself at this link.


  1. Yup, it’s not the 60’s or 70’s anymore. The MN mines don’t even make the top 10 anymore.
    2% of total iron ore production – we are just the flea on the end of the tail of the dog these days.
    The only thing that will keep MN iron ore alive is by Gov decree.

    “The report notes that U.S. iron ore production in 2016 amounted to just 2 percent of all global iron ore production.”

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