Updated: 01/02/2014 10:45 PM
Created: 01/02/2014 2:37 PM WDIO.com
The mining companies had a good year, and are gearing up for a good 2014 as well.
Northshore Mining idled two production lines in 2013, which meant layoffs for dozens of people. But on a better note, in March, workers showed us how they've been able to make a new type of iron ore pellet. The pellets look the same, but have a higher iron content, and can be fed into a DRI plant. DRI, direct reduced iron, is considered the wave of the future. Some of the laid off workers were called back for this project.
U.S. Steel's CEO spoke in Minneapolis at the end of January. John Surma announced they are part of a new iron ore alliance with the Steelworkers, to help spread awareness of the importance of mining. We met the new general manager for the company's Minnesota ore operations, Larry Sutherland. He says it's great to be back on the Range, after managing other U.S. Steel facilities during his career.
PolyMet had a big year. Their long-awaited Supplemental Draft EIS was published and is now out for public review. It's 2200 pages long. The company has also applied for their wetland permit through the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
The Mining Truth coalition sent a petition to Governor Mark Dayton, asking him to ensure the environment will be protected with any copper-nickel mining project like PolyMet.
As for the Highway 53 relocation project, a new option was discovered. It's still through the Rouchleau pit. But engineers discovered it could possibly be de-watered, meaning a long bridge might not be needed. MnDOT also decided to the relief of many, that the western route would no longer be on the table. In June, a large economic study started to determined some of the impacts of moving the road. And MnDOT began hosting "Coffee and Conversation" meetings to keep folks updated.
Progress at Essar Steel's site remained slow all year, although some work began again in October. The timetable of when they may be producing iron ore pellets is likely the first part of 2015.
Magnetation is moving forward with their new pellet plant in Reynolds, Indiana. And the state approved a mining lease for their soon to be built plant near the Canisteo Pit.
As for 2014, the outlook is strong for capacity at the traditional mines.
Angels for a Cause
A crowd gathered in Duluth on Sunday to make snow angels for a good cause. Profits from the event went to Lutheran Social Services to help them build the Center for Changing Lives, a new center for homeless youth in Duluth.
Schroeder's Iditarod Run Inspires Learning in the Northland
Northlander Nathan Schroeder and his sled dog team continued their grueling journey across the Iditarod course in Alaska this weekend. The race leader was expected to finish on Monday, but Schroeder was running in 25th place. Still, students in his home town are learning a lot by cheering him on.
Vietnam Says It May Have Found Missing Jet's Door
A Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspect may be one of the doors of the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner on Sunday. Troubling questions are still emerging about how two of the passengers managed to board the aircraft using stolen passports.
Coast Guard Begins Ice Breaking on Lake Superior
U.S. Coast Guard officials say ice breaking on the Duluth-Superior harbor this year will be difficult. The director of Vessel Traffic Services tells Wisconsin Public Radio that it's the most ice he's seen on the lake in 25 years.
State Patrol: 4 Killed in Southern Minn. Crash ID'd
The Minnesota State Patrol has released the identities of four people killed in a two-vehicle crash on icy roads Friday near Sleepy Eye. The broadside crash happened on Highway 14 in Brown County just after 8 p.m.