What goes up ain’t ever coming back

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today, entitled “A Fistful of Helium.” This one’s been floating around my office like an old birthday balloon for several months. In fact, the helium discovery near Babbitt is one of the topics I’m most asked about when I’m out and about. I hadn’t written anything… Read More →

Labor navigates northern Minnesota political crosswinds

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. Let’s call it a Labor Day think piece. Northern Minnesota has been a wellspring of the American labor movement for more than a century. However, in more recent years, organized labor has shifted into the role of mature old power, increasingly wedded to politics and… Read More →

People, like water, must flow somewhere

All water flows from one place to another. Water moves from high ground to low, through peat and sand, slowly cutting mighty stones into sediment. Then it changes form. Evaporates. Falling back to earth, water begins anew. I grew up in the St. Louis River watershed, specifically the Sax-Zim bog that drains into the southbound… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs resets the Mesabi Iron Range

Before March 2, 1901 northern Minnesota served as a battleground for two immutable titans of industry, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. At stake was control of the world’s richest untapped source of iron ore and the nation-building steel it could produce. The scene grew chaotic with new mines opening, closing, and changing hands all… Read More →

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 →

Cleveland Cliffs idles Northshore Mine until Aug. 15

Cleveland Cliffs announced today it would idle its Northshore Mining operations in Babbitt and Silver Bay until at least Aug. 15. This becomes the first mine shutdown announced since the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Cliffs will also shutter its Tilden Mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Cliffs recently completed its takeover of AK Steel, but… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs acquires AK Steel

Iron ore producer Cleveland Cliffs acquired AK Steel in a deal announced today. It’s a seismic transaction that could have long-term implications for the Mesabi Iron Range. Cliffs will use its stock to buy $1.1 billion worth of AK Steel stock, assuming about 68 percent ownership of the Ohio-based company. Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves will… Read More →

Cliffs vows ore for Hibbing Taconite, plans for Nashwauk

Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves still wants to mine iron ore near Nashwauk. He vows that Hibbing Taconite will always have enough ore from his company, if they need it. Further he says Northshore Mining continues to make progress with direct-reduced iron products. Finally, he predicts smooth contract negotiations between his company and the United Steelworkers…. 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 →

United Steelworkers to rally Thursday over contract talks

On Thursday, Aug. 30, members and supporters of the United Steelworkers will hold rallies and demonstrations across the Mesabi Iron Range. They seek to bring attention to the union’s ongoing impasse with major steelmakers over a new labor contract. This story highlights a critical moment in the economic recovery that reached the Iron Range in 2016,… Read More →