MN Taconite Production Continues to Climb

An estimated 38.9 million tons of iron pellets were produced by the state's mining operations in 2011, up from 35.1 million tons in 2010 and up dramatically from 17.1 million tons in 2009.

Taconite mining, long a key industry in northern Minnesota's Iron Range, showed significant signs of progress in 2010, and it continued to improve in 2011.

Taconite mining continued at or near capacity of the Iron Range's operations last year, with an estimated 38.9 million tons of iron pellets produced, according to a report by the Mesabi Daily News.

That comes two years after the region experienced a dismal 2009-with only 17.1 million tons produced. In 2010, production more than doubled, reaching 35.1 million tons.

As a result of increased production, estimated tax revenues paid by the taconite operations in 2011 totaled $73.2 million, up slightly from $72.4 million in 2010, the Mesabi Daily News reported. Cleveland-based taconite producer Cliffs Natural Resources, which operates several Minnesota mines, added about 200 employees during the year, though many of them replaced workers who retired, according to the Virginia newspaper.

Here's a look at 2011 production levels at each of the state's taconite plants, as reported by the Mesabi Daily News:

  • ArcelorMittal's Minorca Mine, near Virginia: 2.5 million tons 
  • Hibbing Taconite, operated by Cliffs Natural Resources: 7.7 million tons
  • Keewatin Taconite, owned by U.S. Steel: 5 million tons
  • Minntac, owned by U.S. Steel, in Mountain Iron: 13.1 million tons
  • Northshore Mining, owned by Cliffs Natural Resources, with a mine near Babbitt and a processing plant in Silver Bay: 5.6 million tons
  • United Taconite, owned by Cliffs Natural Resources, with a mine in Eveleth and a plant in Forbes: 5 million tons

To learn more about taconite production in Minnesota, read the full Mesabi Daily News article here.