Moving the Highway for Mining: Cliffs' Perspective

Updated: 08/07/2014 11:39 PM
Created: 08/07/2014 4:44 PM

It looks pretty simple. The huge equipment moves the raw rock, which is then processed into iron ore pellets.

But it's actually more complicated than that, because not all ore is created equal. And the ore under Highway 53 just south of Virginia, is the best left in the pit.

"We can blend that with other ores, to make the right product for our customer. By mining that deposit, we can add about 15 years to the mine life," explained Nick Beukema, Mine Manager.

A long time ago, the mine pit was very far away from the road, the ore was considered of average quality. But things have changed since that 1960 easement agreement was signed, which says MnDOT has to move the road so United Taconite can mine under it, by May 2017.

People wonder how valuable the ore is under the roadway, since it may seem narrow. "We can mine up to 800 feet deep," Beukema explained.

And why not put the new road through the pit? There are a variety of safety and construction challenges. "It would take us 15 years to move all of the ore out of here, and then the pit would be 800 feet deep, which would make building a road here more difficult than it would be now," Beukema said.

MnDOT is working continuously on this project. But they have to wait for critical test foundations to be put in the Rouchleau Pit, to fully vet the options for the re-route. No companies put in bids for the work, which was disappointing, according to engineer Pat Huston. But they have another plan in place. "We're working with a contractor who could possibly be putting those test footings in, in September."

Front Page

  • Alleged Wisc. Bank Robber in St. Louis County Jail

    A man was arrested in Duluth Saturday night after he allegedly robbed a bank in Eau Claire, Wisc. the night before. The Eau Claire Police Department responded to a bank robbery at Wells Fargo Bank in Eau Claire on Friday night.

  • Licenses, Deer Population Down for Wisconsin Deer Opener

    The Wisconsin firearm deer hunting tradition got off to a safe start as Department of Natural Resources officials said they had received no reports of accidental shootings or other injuries by mid-afternoon Sunday on the opener of the state's nine-day gun deer hunt.

  • Northlanders Give Back in Preparation for Holiday Season

    Northlanders gave back on Saturday in preparation for the holiday season. It was Family Volunteer Day at the Duluth Library, and folks participated in several friendly projects.

  • "By Us, For Us" Meeting to Discuss Vision for Equity in Duluth

    Duluth's Native and African heritage communities came together on Saturday to share experiences and ideas at the 1st United Methodist Church. The meeting called "By Us, For Us" invited people of color, African Americans and Native Americans to come together to break bread and learn about each other culturally. 

  • MNsure Enrollments, Renewals Approach 8,000

    Minnesota's health insurance exchange says it has enrolled nearly 8,000 Minnesotans in health plans in the first week of open enrollment this fall. The deadline for enrolling in coverage that takes effect Jan. 1 is Dec. 15.


Freezing Rain Advisory

MN AREAS AFFECTED: East Marshall; East Polk; Lake Of The Woods; Mahnomen; North Beltrami; North Clearwater; Pennington; Red Lake; Roseau; South Beltrami; South Clearwater
Expires: 11/24/2014 12:00 AM

Dense Fog Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Ashland; Bayfield; Burnett; Douglas; Iron; Price; Sawyer; Washburn
Expires: 11/24/2014 12:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Bayfield; Douglas
Expires: 11/25/2014 6:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

Expires: 11/25/2014 8:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

Expires: 11/25/2014 8:00 AM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

MI AREAS AFFECTED: Gogebic; Ontonagon
Expires: 11/25/2014 7:00 AM