Since Minnesota first started mining iron ore in 1884, iron mining and, thereby, steel production in the United States has played (and continues to play) a vital role in every Minnesotan’s life. It’s not only the products made from iron and steel that we use day to day, but the unseen contributions these industries make that impact our lives and the lives of future generations!
Economic Contribution to the Schools
In 2016 alone, Minnesota iron mines contributed $28 million to the Minnesota School Trust Fund. That’s $33.57 for every student in the state! (Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)
Direct Contribution to Minnesota’s Economy
The iron mines directly contribute $1.8 billion to the economy of Minnesota every year in the form of purchases, wages and benefits, taxes and royalties. Subsequent business impact induced as the result of iron mining is responsible for an additional $1.6 billion – making the total economic impact $3 billion on the state’s economy.
Did you know that all but ONE of the iron mines in the United States are located in Minnesota? The other is located in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Over 80% of domestic iron is mined in Minnesota. (Source: American Iron and Steel Institute)
Mineral Independence for Iron and Steel
Minnesota iron mines keep our country mineral independent by providing the nation with iron and steel that
factor heavily into our national defense. Minnesota’s iron mines helped us secure allied victories in WWI and
WWII by providing the raw iron that created the steel that was used to produce tanks, ships, and submarines. (Source: Vermilion Community College History Department)
Environment as a Core Value
Environmental stewardship is a core value for Minnesota’s iron mining industry. Thorough environmental reviews are part of the daily operations of a mining facility, and permits to mine include environmental control requirements including: water use, dust control, erosion prevention, overburden stockpiles, air emission control, and reclamation of the land. “America mines iron better and safer than anyone anywhere in the world.” – MN House Subcommittee on Mining Forestry & Tourism Chair, Rep. Chris Swedzinksi
In healthy economic conditions, Minnesota’s iron mines directly employ 4,200 men and women and support an additional 13,000 employed by local companies that support goods and services to the region! (Source: University of Minnesota Labovitz School of Business Study, 2013) Because iron mined in Minnesota is sent to American steelmaking facilities, all-told, Minnesota’s iron mines support millions of jobs in the nation – 11 million jobs nationwide. (Source: Homeland Security Study, 2016)
Reinvesting in Our Community
Minnesota’s iron mines reinvest in the communities they are a part of through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB). The IRRRB invests in growing businesses that create jobs, prepares communities for change and growth, and invests in an educated workforce. The IRRRB is primarily funded by mining tax dollars.
Legacy of Preserving the Land
Minnesota’s iron mines work to preserve the land that is mined for future uses – even while mines are operating! Minnesota has been mining iron ore for more than 130 years, and old mine sites have been reclaimed into campgrounds, bike trails (120-mile Mesabi Trail), turned into lakes (Lake Ore-Be-Gone) for family fun and fishing, beaches (like the city-owned Black Beach, a popular tourist destination on Lake Superior), and more. A former iron mine pit even serves as a source of drinking water for the City of Virginia!
First Pour Steel
Minnesota’s iron mines account for 80% of “first pour” steel in the U.S. (Source: American Iron and Steel Institute) (The first time iron is made into steel – not yet recycled). While steel is the most recycled material in North America, the demand for steel in vehicles, building materials and construction infrastructure, and appliances is so high, it is still necessary to continue to mine iron ore.
America (and the World) Is Built from Iron
From vehicles and appliances to the construction of commercial buildings and residential homes, to transportation and agriculture industries to national defense, power generation, and the equipment needed to manufacture these and other items, iron ore is an essential part of our daily lives.
“Americans are at our best when we make stuff, and we can’t make stuff without iron ore.” – Duluth Seaport Authority President Vanta Coda.
Everyday Iron for Everyone
Every American born will use more than 20,000 pounds of iron in their lifetime. (Source: Minerals Education Coalition) The iron mined from northeastern Minnesota is processed into steel, which makes up so many of the products, equipment, appliances, infrastructure and transportation methods that we use every single day.
Iron in Your Future
Minnesota’s iron mining industry continues to evolve, both technically and environmentally. The ongoing evolution and improvements contribute to the industry’s current and future economic impact for the betterment of our state and nation! Support Minnesota Iron by buying products made from domestic steel. Visit our website
for more information, or visit us at the Minnesota State Fair on September 1st in Carousel Park!