Every day, in nearly every facet of life, we use products created by Minnesota’s iron mining industry.
The Iron Mining History
First mined in northeastern Minnesota’s Iron Range in 1884, iron mining and, thereby, steel production in the United States has long-played (and continues to play) a vital role in every individual’s life.
America (and the World) Is Built from Iron
From vehicles and appliances to the construction of commercial buildings and residential homes, to the transportation and agriculture industries to national defense, power generation, and the equipment needed to manufacture these and other items, iron ore is essential.
“Americans are at our best when we’re making stuff,” says Duluth Seaport Authority President Vanta Coda. “And we can’t make stuff without iron ore.”
Here are 10 things you use every day that couldn’t exist without iron and steel:
Vehicles – cars, trucks, SUVs, semis, RVs, buses, trains.
Appliances – refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, stoves, dishwasher.
Utensils – forks, spoons, knives and more.
Medical – surgical stainless steel, implantable devices.
Construction – commercial and residential.
Agriculture – farming equipment: tractors, plows, combines, milking equipment.
Transportation – shipping, roads, buses, trains, and semis (and what they transport – like your food).
Power generation – generators, wire, transmission lines, distribution equipment.
Infrastructure – roads, bridges, tunnels, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, and telecommunications.
National Defense – armaments, military vehicles, and ships.
Additional facts about the role of steel your everyday life (from the American Iron and Steel Institute):
- Every American born will need 27,416 pounds of iron in their lifetime.
- One-and-a half to two million tons of steel is shipped to the appliance, utensil, and cutlery market in the United States annually.
- Electric motors are made of iron – powering our homes, appliances, and industry.
- Steel hinges on refrigerators can support more than 140 pounds of door weight without sagging.
- On average 75% of the weight of a typical household appliance comes from steel.
- Minnesota’s iron mines account for 80% of “first pour” steel in the U.S. (The first time iron is made into steel – not yet recycled). First pour steel must be used in certain situations where recycled still will not work due to its physical properties (it is more malleable).
- Still, more than 90% of iron and steel is recycled – more than any other recycled material.
To learn more about the role of the iron and steel in your everyday life, read more here.